Selling a product in another country can be difficult – even in the European Union’s internal market. Differing rules on size, weight, labelling and packaging can make it unprofitable and unpractical for firms to sell their goods in another country.
Adapting products for another market can require re-tooling a production line, using translators or having extra tests done on a product. All this costs money and the companies hit hardest are small and medium size enterprises.
MEPs have today started a debate about the marketing of products. The free movement of goods within the EU is expected to speed up following a legislative package being put forward by the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection. The reports relate to three Commission proposals on mutual recognition and market surveillance.
Finnish MEP Alexander Stubb said that "goods will move around Europe freer than before, which will increase consumer choice. For example, in the future, a bike made in Finland won’t need to be equipped with hand brakes for the Belgian market."
A successful outcome would be "a victory for small and medium-sized enterprises. It reduces red tape," said Stubb.
He also welcomed the speeding up of appeal processes: "Companies usually had to face a lengthy 2-3 years court case. This regulation envisages a 20 to 60 days procedure for the same purpose and only the most disputed cases would go to court."
Other reports in the goods package focus on the surveillance of the marketing of products and product safety. At present there is no common EU marking system of products. The Commission is expected to propose possible alternatives to the "CE" mark.
Last Wednesday EU Ministers and MEPs reached agreement on the proposals. Parliament will vote on Thursday. During the debate, the chair of Parliament’s Internal Market Committee, British Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy will ask the Commission about safety marking on consumer products.