The association VERE e.V. has approached the Working Committee on Market Surveillance AAMÜ of Baden-Württemberg/Germany with the question as to what the practice of market surveillance looks like at SMEs. In a nutshell: The VERE association, which currently has around 3,900 members, was established to represent the interests of small and medium-sized manufacturers and importers of electrical products in order to implement the obligations under the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG). Meanwhile, the scope of activities of the association VERE e.V. has been extended to include the implementation of further product legislation such as the Product Safety Act (ProdSG), the Electronmagnetic Compatibility Act (EMVG), etc. as well as market surveillance topics.
In the interests of our members, the VERE association has discussed with Market Surveillance Committee representatives of the Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Energy Management of Baden-Württemberg as to whether there can be any differences in evaluating the technical documentation of an SME and that of a large-cap company, respectively what scope for action the Market Surveillance Committee perceives in this regard. While it is undisputed that all products must meet the same requirements, the way of proving implementation is left to the product owner. What does this mean for SMEs?
We took away the following results from our talks on 3 December 2021:
- Market surveillance works in a risk-oriented manner and according to the principle of proportionality, i.e. the test contents and possible measures are related to the potential damage to consumers and the environment.
- Those who design their product responsibly and know it well have little to worry about, but should at least have documentation (note by the VERE association: This is where service providers like trade-e-bility can help).
- As soon as series production with larger quantities begins or if it is not known what components the supplier is using, care should be taken to check more closely or arrange for this to be done.
- Even product-responsible SMEs must obtain information about their obligations (for example, via the VERE News Portal).
- Should a product recall ever occur, care must be taken to act responsibly. As long as each customer is known individually (selling, for example, in very small quantities as a small supplier), the risk is relatively lower since the recall can still be handled manually.
- As a rule, a product recall is associated with serious defects and does not occur solely because of any missing or faulty documentation. It is important, however, to be able to have and present documentation.
- If merchandise is not purchased in the EU single market, a customs inspection is always to be expected. This is where the market surveillance authority will be involved in the procedure, e.g., within the scope of the “control notification”.
- Someone who understands what they are selling is in a different position than someone with a large assortment of products unknown to them. The experience of the authorities has shown the following: In most cases, whoever knows their products also knows the deficiencies and can eliminate them accordingly.