EU to Hold All Importers To Greater Accountability

The EU has generated numerous substance regulations over the past few years: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS), REACH, VOC Directive, CLP ROHS, WEEE and even some CE marking directives. Whenever someone asks about enforcement of these regulations I usually point them to the Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products (RAPEX) where they see a limited scope of products found for non-compliance. Soon this will all be changing. 

In June, the EU introduced the Market Surveillance Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, which is a concerted effort by the European Commission to enforce all directives and ensure product compliance to EU legislation. The framework established mandatory infrastructure and authorities to be given to customs agents in every European market.  The regulation sets up common risk analysis, techniques and benchmarks for verifying compliance. Additionally, it sets up communication channels between member states for notifications of non-compliant products. 

This directive affects any company importing a product into the EU but it will have an especially large effect on companies outside of the EU providing e-commerce sales to individuals inside the EU, which has up to this point been more or less un-regulated.    

A Framework of Compliance Accountability   

The new regulation prohibits a product being placed on the EU market unless there is an established economic operator within the EU. An economic operator could take the form of:  

  • The goods manufacturer itself 
  • An authorized representative 
  • Fulfilment service provider  

This economic operator’s role is to act as a body available to provide documentation cooperating with market surveillance authorities and to inform authorities when they believe a product poses a risk.  

Companies producing and selling construction products, machinery, toys, radio equipment, pressure equipment, electrical and electronic equipment all fall under this new regulation. And any company placing products within the EU market without an identified responsible economic operator in the EU — or with an economic operator in the UK — may face noncompliance and steep fines.   

Market surveillance authorities plan to uphold this legislation through product checks, samples and physical checks, and relevant documentation requests.     

Custom authorities can suspend the release of a product if provisions are not met, and market surveillance authorities have four days to request the suspension be maintained based on other factors. They will also have the power to impose penalties and fines. 

And when a product is deemed noncompliant in one EU member state, it is automatically noncompliant in all EU member states. 

Substantial Impact to E-Commerce Business   

In the past, for any consumer purchasing a product online from a manufacturer outside of the EU, the consumer acted as the responsible party for the materials they were importing.    

But from a lack of due diligence on consumers’ behalves, this is now changing. Vendors outside of the EU now must have a representative within the EU to ensure their compliance. If they do not have such representative, a fulfillment service provider will be deferred to, such as a person or company offering at least two of the following services

  • Warehousing 
  • Packaging 
  • Addressing and dispatching 

*Courier and postal companies are excluded.  

Verify Documentation and Establish Your Trusted EU Only Representative Now 

The Market Surveillance Regulation will take effect July 16, 2021. That means if you do not have a representative within the EU and you lack the proper documentation (Technical Construction file) to support compliance, you face the risk of importation delays, fines for non-compliance, brand image and losing access to not only the country of import but the entire EU market.  

Tetra Tech has offices in the EU with experienced staff to help address all your documentation requirements. We can assist in the review and generation of missing support information. Additionally, our EU entities can serve as your Authorized Representatives for your company and its products. Contact us today to learn more at [email protected].  

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