Wednesday

29th Mar 2017

Traceability of goods must improve, says EU

  • Textiles accounted for 27 percent of all dangerous products alerts in 2011 (Photo: USDAgov)

Any non-food product sold in the EU must be traceable and labelled with the name and address of its manufacturer.

The rules are part of a larger safety and market surveillance package put forward on Wednesday (13 February) by the European Commission.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“There will be set harmonised rules as regards country-of-origin and also the names and address of the manufacturer who can be contacted in case something goes wrong,” Tonio Borg, the Maltese European commissioner for health, told reporters in Brussels.

Speaking alongside commission vice-president of Antonio Tajani, Borg said national authorities are currently unable to trace the origin of around 10 percent of hazardous products that enter the EU’s annual €1 trillion consumer product market.

A pan-EU rapid alert system was set up in 2004 to notify member states of problem cases when a product poses a serious risk to health.

It was activated 1,556 times in 2011. Around 27 percent of the cases dealt with textiles followed by toys at 21 percent.

More than half of the health-risk products came from China.

China also topped the list when it comes to countries where authorities were unable to trace the product back to its original manufacturer. Documents to help trace the product are either lacking or the information given is inaccurate. Sometimes, the Chinese company in question denies any involvement.

The Brussels-executive proposal aims to put an end to the uncertainty, said Tajani.

The Italian industry commissioner noted the new rules would apply to “basically anyone who is involved in the production chain.”

The proposals are backed by the pan-European consumer organisation BEUC.

“National measures alone are not coping with the scale of risk,” said BEUC’s general director Monique Goyens.

Better national monitoring methods, improved product traceability and a mandate to allow the EU to pass safety rules more quickly were welcomed by the organisation.

Made-in labels required for all

Other novelties include a ‘made-in’ label that extends to companies inside the EU. EU-based companies can either label their product as made in the EU or narrow it down to a member state.

The proposals apply to both harmonised and non-harmonised products where traceability and labelling rules are applied differently. This will no longer be the case.

For instance, children’s toys are currently harmonised throughout the EU. But other products purpose-built for children like beds are not.

The new proposals would have the same rule for both harmonised and non-harmonised products.

There are limitations.

A shoe put together in Italy may have its laces, soles, or other parts sourced in China. But because it is assembled in Italy, the shoe will be labelled either as made in the EU or in Italy.

Tajani said the country of origin label depends on the “most important step in the chain” of the product. He noted where it is assembled as the most important step.

“If a product comes from three different countries, and the product is assembled in say Malta then you would put made in Europe or made in Malta,” said Tajani.

If parts of the product are manufactured outside Europe, then the part must respect existing customs codes outlined by the World Trade Organisation, said the trade commissioner.

This is not always the case.

Last April, the commission noted that some of the products that enter the EU market are assembled by children.

"Enterprises operating in third countries are obliged to respect existing legal requirements," said the commission in a response to an MEP on the issue of child labour and EU products.

Focus

China reduced toxic toys exports, says EU

Fewer toxic toys and skin-irritating textiles have been imported on the European market, thanks to a clamp down from Chinese authorities, the EU commission said on Thursday.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Greek bailout talks to 'intensify'

Greece and its creditors will meet in Brussels later this week to unblock negotiations needed for a new tranche of financial aid, amid concerns over the country's economic situation.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

News in Brief

  1. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  2. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  3. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  4. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal
  5. EU majority against GM crops, but not enough to block them
  6. Turkish referendum voting starts in Europe
  7. Le Pen says she lacks election funds
  8. UN dinner for Cyprus leaders to restart stalled peace talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans