Consumers’ safety is a must, but how to guarantee it without a harmonised set of standards?

While a few years back, the non-listing of standards was exceptional, such practices risk becoming the norm. Producers of home appliances like blenders, refrigerators, connected products and, what is most, medical devices today cannot fully refer to certain standards because as such they do not exist black on white. 

The concerns over providing market surveillance with the right tools so to boost the conformity assessment for products, can be easily felt during conferences on standardisation. Different parties, however, find the development of the already 11-years-old New Legislative Framework (NLF) worrisome for different reasons.

While a few years back, the non-listing of standards was exceptional, such practices risk becoming the norm. Producers of home appliances like blenders, refrigerators, connected products and, what is most, medical devices today cannot fully refer to certain standards because as such they do not exist black on white. The situation puts in difficulty not only home appliance manufacturers, but also market surveillance authorities who often cannot make reference to harmonised standards to test a product. Even fully respecting the prerogatives enshrined in the legislation to who has to list standards, if this NLF system has been continuously delivering safe products to consumers, bringing it back to shape seems to be the right way forward.

“For sure the Framework does not feel well, but there are ways to improve its health conditions. For instance, by reducing the backlog of standards offered for citation”, said the Director General of APPLiA, Paolo Falcioni during the 30th General Assembly of the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation (ANEC) on 14 June. He further highlighted that when it comes to the Low Voltage Directive, ensuring that electrical products within certain voltage limits provide a high level of protection for Europeans, over 80% of the offered standards are not yet listed in the Official Journal of the EU.

Commenting on a supposedly slow standard development, Paolo Falcioni said that the quick drafting of standards is not necessarily better. “We need to ensure standards are the “state of the art”, repeatable and reproducible. This is an ambitious task that could take a little bit more time. As long as standardisation is not deliberately delayed, the industry would be supportive of the process”, he concluded.

Standards can be fit for purpose and for everyone to be assured of that, policy makers, standardisation bodies, consumers and the industry have to work cooperatively.