A coalition of European machinery industry associations is petitioning the European Parliament to strengthen enforcement of the single-market trade regulations on consumer product safety. A group of trade associations representing EU machine builders met with members of the Parliament and EU trade authorities recently, to discuss proposed changes to the regulations. The industrial groups included CECIMO, the European Association of Machine Tool Builders.

But, their endorsement of the legislative proposal was qualified by petitions for the EU legislature to use new safety regulations and liabilities standards to monitor unfair trade practices that CECIMO and the other groups contend damages fair trade within the European market.

In addition to CECIMO, the industrial groups meeting last week in Brussels included the trade associations for construction equipment manufacturers (CECE), agriculture machinery producers (CEMA), plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers (EUROMAP), and producers of materials handling, lifting and storage equipment (FEM).

The European Parliament is considering a proposal to revise and update its product safety standards and enforcement regulations. The new program would be binding on all EU member states, and a series of general regulations would be invoked to cover industries where no industry-specific regulations.

The coalition of machine building group agreed that the proposed legislation presents an opportunity to achieve a level standard for safety and consumer protection across the single market, and described it as “a landmark initiative to support the EU’s re-industrialization objective.”

However, the coalition asked the European Parliament to make the proposal “more ambitious and relevant” to the unfair trade problems of their member companies. “By ensuring compliance with EU legislation and eliminating unfair competition, more effective market surveillance will help safeguard the long-term competitiveness of the European machinery industry and protect vital public interests in the areas of health and safety, energy efficiency, and environmental protection,” according to their joint statement.

Underscoring the importance of oversight and enforcement, CECIMO vice president Jarmo Hyvönen, stressed the importance of establishing a European Union framework for “proportionate and deterrent” sanctions: “A certain level of approximation between sanctions in member states should ensure that those who play unfairly are exposed to a similar level of risk on every spot of the Union’s territories,” he stated

The European Commission (the EU bureau that oversees trade practices and regulations) agreed with the industrial groups that market surveillance is a shared responsibility, and requires a high level of cooperation between member states, the European Commission, and industry.

All of the participants at the Brussels meeting affirmed that the Commission should assume a stronger role in coordinating individual member states’ market surveillance programs and the EU’s administrative framework. The proposal embeds such principles through a greater use of ICT tools and the creation of the European Market Surveillance Platform – EMSF.

“We strongly believe that unlawful traders placing non-compliant products on the markets should bear the cost of the damage they cause,” stated Paul Burger of Hitachi Construction Machinery Europe, who is the Trade Policy Commission chairman for CECE Trade Policy Commission.