Protecting the welfare of EU consumers and their interests, including the environment, is key to maintaining confidence in the EU Internal Market. EU consumers must be confident the goods they purchase will not harm them or their environment. Effective market surveillance is one of the fundamental tools used to protect EU consumers and their interests by removing products causing harm to human health and/or the environment from the market. Additionally, market surveillance should ensure fair competition by discouraging unscrupulous operators placing non-compliant products on the market while putting complaint operators at a competitive disadvantage with sometimes serious consequences. Due to the free movement of goods within the EU, once a product is made available on the EU market it can move freely throughout the EU. Therefore, while market surveillance is the responsibility of each Member State, for it to be effective it must be carried out in a consistent manner and at a consistent level of intensity throughout the EU.
Internal Market surveillance efforts focusses largely on an extensive range of laws collectively known as internal market legislation. The framework for carrying out market surveillance is set out in Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 (Market Surveillance Regulation). The Market Surveillance Regulation requires, among other things, market surveillance authorities carry out effective market surveillance and for Member States to ensure their market surveillance authorities are resourced to perform their duties properly.
The EPA carries out market surveillance in relation to certain internal market legislation which includes the Batteries Directive, Fluorinated Greenhouse Gas (F-Gas) Regulation, Mercury Regulation, Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) Regulation, Paints Directive, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation and the Restriction on the Use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive.
The EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Towards a Toxic-Free Environment (Chemicals Strategy) is central to the attainment of the EU Green Deal initiative. The Chemicals Strategy calls for a zero-tolerance approach towards non-compliances in relation to environment-related legislation including that relevant to the internal market. It is envisaged such a stance, by reducing the amount of hazardous substances in products and hence their potential release into the general environment, will promote the strategy’s other related initiatives such as, the Zero Pollution Ambition, the Protection against Most Harmful Chemicals goal and the attainment of Clean Material Cycles (supporting Circular Economy aspirations).