Market surveillance faces being bogged down by bureaucracy, says BITA technical consultant Bob Hine in the January issue of Storage Handling Distribution
"The primary sticking point has been the issue of mandatory 'country of origin' marking, which is part of the Consumer Product Safety Regulation (CPSR)," he writes.
"I don't need to remind anyone within the industry how important effective market surveillance is. We are all well aware that operator safety is best protected by ensuring every piece of materials handling equipment entering the EU is manufactured in compliance with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC and other relevant standards."
EU directives on safety, noise, electromagnetic compatibility and pollution prevent operator safety from being compromised. Failure to enforce compliance though market surveillance could result in machinery suppliers importing non-compliant machines that are then sold at lower prices.
Hine says it is frustrating progress on the EU's Proposal for a Regulation on the Market Surveillance (MSR) of Products, announced on 13 February 2013, has stalled.
"It had been hoped agreement could be reached among member states and relevant industry bodies to get a first reading agreement within the current legislative cycle of the European Parliament (2009-2014). At this stage however, a deal before the European elections in May looks unlikely."
The MSR has been bundled together with the CPSR. The proposals were submitted as one package to the European Parliament in February 2013.
Hine says cross-referencing the two proposals has hindered rather than helped progress through the European legislative process.
EU working parties have examined the two proposals, and the Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth (Internal Market) had reviewed the details of MSR over the course of meetings in 2013. The Working Party on Consumer Protection and Information had a similar program to examine the CPSR proposal.
Despite compromise being reached in several areas, there have been some issues, Hine says. The European Federation of Materials Handling (FEM), of which BITA is an active member, joined forces with its counterparts in the construction, machine tool, agricultural, plastics and rubber machinery industries to highlight specific areas where the proposed regulation could add "more confusion and legal uncertainty, ultimately going against the very purpose of the initiative".
Some member states want mandatory origin marking to improve traceability. However, others argue mandatory origin provision is not justified or meaningful in an age when component parts and products are sourced from many geographical locations. The second view is strongly shared by BITA and FEM.
The EU institutions have not started with the informal but crucial trilogue negotiations (the process of hammering out a package of amendments acceptable to the Council of the EU and the European Parliament).
"As we kick-off another year, which promises much in terms of increased truck sales, the prospect of no further action - at a regulatory level - on market surveillance until autumn is an extremely frustrating one for the industry," Hine says.