E-commerce cooperation for consumer protection and fair competition


Non-compliant products imported in the EU bear significant safety risks for consumers and negatively affect fair competition. At the same time, cross-border e-commerce poses immense challenges for market surveillance. The cooperation of the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie - BMWi) and Chinese customs authorities on the safety of ICT (information and communications technology) products confronts these problems at the source.

Shenzhen is a global technology centre and has the fourth largest container port in the world. © Ricardo Wu/Unsplash

An increasing number of EU consumers are buying online. Many of the products they buy are produced in China or bought on Chinese platforms. The quality and compliance of imported products vary greatly. Many Chinese companies produce at the highest level and drive global competition. However, there is still a significant number of non-compliant and even dangerous products entering the EU market. This harms consumers and – as non-compliance can reduce costs – leads to unfair competition.

Updating market surveillance systems

Considering that more and more products are sold on third country e-commerce platforms and imported directly into the EU, market surveillance authorities face immense challenges in ensuring compliance and product safety. The EU and Germany are responding to these challenges with comprehensive reforms of their market surveillance systems. They are also intensifying their cooperation with third countries on product safety and market surveillance.

Addressing compliance issues at the source through international cooperation

An important part of this is the cooperation between BMWi and the Shenzhen customs authority on the product safety of ICT products, supported by the Global Project Quality Infrastructure.

To prevent non-compliance at the source, the cooperation aims at informing Chinese small and medium enterprises directly about relevant EU and German requirements and regulations. German experts exchange with enterprises about product safety requirements and inform about updates and recent developments. Additionally, German experts present to the national and regional customs authorities best practices of the new EU and German market surveillance system. Among other things, they provide information on the intensified cooperation between customs and market surveillance authorities required by the EU Market Surveillance Regulation and already practiced since 2018 in the German Market Surveillance Forum (Deutsches Marktüberwachungsforum - DMÜF). As a result, Chinese small and medium enterprises are enabled to meet the product safety requirements of the EU for ICT products – which not only is in the interest of European consumers and compliant competitors but also benefits consumers all over the world. 

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