In my last blog writes Arnold Pindar I talked about the need for the major decisions on Brexit to be taken before our negotiators can finalise the myriad of details that remain to be addressed and how we needed to maintain our strong connections with the institutions that do this work.
At a broad level, the UK government’s white paper on the future relationship between the UK and the EU suggests the UK intends to maintain “its robust programme of risk-based market surveillance to ensure that dangerous products do not reach consumers”. Hence, to ensure ongoing cooperation between the UK and the EU27, they are seeking access to systems such as the Rapid Alert System for consumer protection and unsafe products (RAPEX) and the Information and Communication System for Market Surveillance (ICSMS). Fingers crossed, they will be successful in these aims.
Lower Profile Perhaps but still Valuable
I think we should also be concerned about other much lower profile but valuable areas of cooperation and support between EU Member States related to consumer protection. I want to come back to the point I made in that last blog where I mentioned the need for the UK consumer voice to be heard in ANEC, the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation, both at the policy and technical levels. We want:
- agreement in principle for UK membership of ANEC to continue.
- agreement on how UK membership will be funded post Brexit.
Who Pays for our Seat?
As ANEC is funded from the European public purse, it will not be possible for us to be represented on the General Assembly of ANEC unless funded from the UK. We at NCF certainly could not pay and I am pretty sure our colleague UK consumer organisations don’t have the money either so government/tax payers will have to fund that particular subscription. And they better hurry up and write that cheque.
ANEC Elections Looming
If there is no agreement at the top level to maintain the status quo in all EU institutions and operations post 29 March 2019 as part of a transition arrangement and we can’t or don’t renew our sub, we are out of ANEC. Their General Assembly (GA) is elected for four years and a new GA will be elected in May 2019, potentially without UK consumer organisations being eligible to vote and be represented.
ANEC is just one example of a valuable cooperation that benefits consumers right across Europe. I would like to know of other examples where there is a need to ensure that we do not lose the opportunity to continue to benefit from such cooperation as we leave the European Union – get in touch!