PRESS RELEASE – 21 September 2018
The first edition of the esPRESSO GENOA focused on market surveillance
On September 21st, the 58th International Genoa Boat Show set the stage for the first edition of the esPRESSO GENOA breakfast meeting. The event, jointly organized by UCINA – Italian Marine Industry Association, Salone Nautico and European Boating Industry (EBI), turned the spotlights on a crucial topic for the sector: market surveillance.
As highlighted by Piero Formenti, Vice-President of UCINA and President of EBI, in his introduction, the issue is critical for both the safety of the users as well as on the fairness of the competition.
In her key-note speech, Barbara Bonvissuto, Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, underlined the will of the European institutions to acknowledge the needs of the industry and to find a common ground, in order to better tackle the current issues. Market surveillance can be hindered by resource constraints, information gaps, low deterrence of the enforcement tools, fragmentation of organisation, and insufficient cross-border enforcement. She continued by laying out the path ahead, which will address the current shortcomings and aims at bridging the gap between the SMEs and the Commission as well as to further develop the cooperation between member states. In particular, she stressed the will of the Commission to devote more resources, despite the current budget restraint, to establish a compliance network, which would be coordinated by the European Commission itself. The administrative and technical support provided would help the national authorities ensure a diffused control and to be able to rely on practical network management, IT tools, knowledge gathering, peer reviews as well as technical and financial support control campaigns. Finally, she highlighted the fact that the current Recreational Craft Directive will be reviewed soon and that it would be crucial to receive inputs from the industry, through the trade associations, in time for the review.
Giancarlo Ferrari, expert and formerly working at the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports, weighted in on the discussion. He addressed the issues of market surveillance in Italy in particular, which are first and foremost due to a lack of resources as well as the legal framework in which the authority operates. He also highlighted the differences in legislations between the Member States and how some loopholes are being exploited by a few third-country boat builders to avoid fair competition in the Common Market. He explained at length the work done by the Italian authorities, underlining how their aim remained focused on solving the issues together with the manufacturer rather than punish them. Moreover, he explained the difficulties of going through the back catalogue of the manufacturers’ codes, many of which are inactive or do not answer the requests for further information.
Carla Demaria, President of UCINA, took the floor to underline the importance of a proper market surveillance. She dwelled on the importance of awareness on this issue and on the need for the industry to be more involved in the process.
Stefano Pagani Isnardi, Research Department Manager at UCINA, intervened to highlight the work UCINA puts forward in assigning the manufacturer’s code. In particular, Italy requires certain standards in production capacity and on the manufacturer’s projects. Once verified, they assign the codes. He counters this example with the one from another European authority, which requires far less investigations on the manufacturers, that are only due a small fee. This, in his opinion, creates and imbalance in the market, which must be addressed for a fair competition between manufacturers.
A Q&A session followed, which gave the opportunity to the speakers to elaborate on their previous statements and shed some lights on a few practical examples where more surveillance would be instrumental for a safer and fairer internal market. In particular, the accent was put on atavistic problems of surveillance. For example, when a company changes owner or absorbs another one, it creates difficulties for the authorities to track back the codes or ascertain their proper use. Moreover, for small watercrafts the legislation does not foresee any systematic control, therefore it rests on the goodwill of the port authorities to scrupulously check whether or not they are on par with regulations. A few solutions were presented, like for instance the creation of a database to track the crashes and casualties and cross-reference that with the manufacturer, to detect possible systematic failures.
Barbara Bonvissuto reaffirmed the availability of the European Commission in tackling these issues. She specified how the inputs from the sector, through the trade associations, are useful not only to ascertain the problems at hand, but also to offer solutions, which are valuable expert opinions and will be duly taken into account.
Sandrine Devos, Secretary General of EBI, highlighted in her closing remarks the importance of enforcing the existing rules and the need for a closer cooperation between the Member States on these topics. Effective cross-border cooperation between market surveillance authorities is one of the keys to address this, and the European Commission may finance some so-called “Joint Actions” to support the competent authorities and improve the harmonisation. In particular, EBI is in contact with The Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe (PROSAFE), which is working on a proposal for a joint-action for inflatables, ribs and jet skis that aims at improving market surveillance in this sector. She concluded by stating that EBI will continue its work towards a closer collaboration between all the stakeholders involved and that it’s available to help the industry move forward and tackle these matters.
The event showed that the issue of market surveillance is Europewide, and not limited to the recreational boating industry. The EU institutions are well aware of the need to enforce legislation and are working closely with stakeholders.
For more information, please contact:
Andrea Lotesoriere – European Boating Industry