2 October 2017 - Olga Sehnalová – [P-006175-17]
On 26 September 2017, the Commission issued a set of guidelines on the application of EU food and consumer laws to dual quality products. These guidelines, which relate explicitly to foodstuffs, explain the relevant requirements under EC laws to which authorities need to refer when analysing a potential dual quality product issue.
The Commission presented further proposals for work on the collection of evidence and enforcement by offering EUR 1 million to Member States for the financing of studies or enforcement actions.
It also announced it was working on a ‘methodology to improve food product comparative tests so that Member States can discuss this issue on a sound and shared scientific basis that is the same for all’.
However, some recently published comparative studies point to significant differences in the composition not only of foodstuffs but also, for example, of toiletries.
Do the initiatives presented by the Commission (guidelines, funding, methodology) relate also to non-food products?
Does the Commission plan to adopt specific measures concerning the dual quality of non-food products in the near future, and if so, what are these measures?
Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the Commission (11 November 2017):
«The Commission is aware of studies carried out in several Member States revealing the existence of composition differences in food and, in certain instances, also in non-food products.
The Commission is currently looking to food related issues in priority and wants to focus its attention to proper enforcement of the existing legislation. This is why the guidance adopted on 26 September 2017 clearly refers to the implementation of applicable EU law in the specific case of food . Most importantly, it explains the interplay between EU food and consumer law and sets how the Unfair Commercial Practice Directive which is a horizontal consumer protection law, can apply as a "safety net" to tackle issues not directly regulated by sector-specific legislation. This Directive, however, applies to all products and to most services marketed in the EU. Mutatis mutandis, these principles are therefore also helpful for authorities seeking to examine unfair marketing practices in the area of non-food products.
To what regards the harmonised testing approach, developed under the leadership of the Commission's Joint Research Centres, some of its general principles could certainly be relevant to other types of products. The Commission continues to carefully monitor future developments in the area of dual quality food. If necessary, this may lead the Commission to update the guidance and the Commission's strategy towards dual quality products in the light of new evidence based on the common testing approach, and regarding products other than food.
The funding (EUR 1 million) which is offered to national authorities for developing enforcement capacities stems from the Consumer Programme and is thus not restricted to activities relating to dual quality food.».