Questions & Answers
- What does MSSI mean?
MSSI stands for Market Surveillance Support Initiative.
- What is market surveillance? And who is responsible?
Market surveillance is carried out by the authorities of the Member States who are responsible for checking and testing products available on the market or arriving at the custom borders of the European Union. Authorities check if the products are complying with existing legislation.
- What happens if a product does not comply?
If market surveillance authorities find a non-compliant product, they request the economic operator responsible for the placing of the product on the market to take corrective measures. In most cases the product will be voluntarily recalled by the market operator or withdrawn from the market by authorities when the dialogue is not possible. Presumably unsafe consumer products are listed in the European Commission RAPEX system. Companies may also be facing financial sanctions and penalties.
- What is the difference with counterfeiting?
Counterfeiting is an issue where Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) held individually by companies are violated. There are legal procedures in place to deal with these cases. While all counterfeited products are not necessarily unsafe, they are all de facto not in conformity with applicable legislation, as they are forging the compliance procedure of the original manufacturer.
- Who has created MSSI Electrical?
MSSI Electrical is a CECAPI initiative, supported by major industrial players including ABB, Benedict, Eaton, Hager, Legrand, Schneider Electric and Siemens.
- Who is supporting MSSI already?
Some manufacturers: ABB, Benedict, Eaton, Hager, Legrand, Schneider Electric and Siemens are supporting MSSI directly at EU level while national initiatives are already counting more participants.
The following Conformity Assessment Bodies have also signed the MSSI charter: INTERTEK, LCIE, VDE, UL, IMQ and AENOR.
Many manufacturer associations from various EU Member States did the same: AFME, AGORIA, ANIE, BEAMA, ELA, GAMBICA, GIMELEC, IGNES, SPAE_KIGEiT and ZVEI.
- Which products are covered?
The MSSI Electrical covers components for electrical installation, such as switches; circuit breakers and residual current devices, arc fault detective devices; cable management systems; and home, building and process electronic systems – all for commercial, residential and industrial low voltage applications.
- Why was MSSI Electrical created?
Non-compliant products are a serious risk to the safety of people, goods and property and can damage the reputation of individuals and businesses within the electrical industry.
The presence of non-compliant products in the European market is already a reality; its relative importance depends on the markets but it is considered as being a growing concern.
Therefore European electrical equipment industry decided to pull together to protect consumers from unsafe and non-compliant product.
- How does MSSI Electrical work?
MSSI operations are carried out at local level. There can be slight differences in the approach due to local laws. However after identifying potentially non-compliant products, third parties (independent Conformity Assessment Bodies) sample and test products, if products are found non-compliant, relevant market surveillance authorities are informed. Then the authorities decide whether to take enforcement measures against the responsible market operator or not.
- In which countries does MSSI Electrical operates?
To date, national MSSI exist in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Germany and Poland.
- How many products were taken out of the market since the launch of the initiative?
What is important is not how many were taken out or will be taken out but how many will not be put on the market because rogue traders/manufacturers/installers know the market is watched.
- How will MSSI Electrical stimulate market surveillance?
MSSI Electrical aims to support public authorities. We hope that it will inspire authorities to check more electrical equipment to protect consumers. In addition non-compliant electrical products in the European market place are detrimental to fair competition.
- What impact does this have on the value chain?
Non-compliant products can give an unfair commercial advantage to some companies. If only compliant products are on the market, then companies can compete and increase the value for the installers and consumers.
It also influences trust that consumers give to manufacturers and installers, and reduces the liability risks for installers.
- What targets are you setting to measure your success?
MSSI Electrical is currently working on this. Ideally we will be satisfied when only safe and compliant products are on the market.
- What measures have already been taken by industry to tackle unfair competition from unsafe and non-compliant products?
In some countries samples, test campaigns and information to market surveillance authorities have already taken place. Also some products have been taken out of the market.
- What is unfair competition?
Unfair competition in this context is the fact that some companies manufacture or sell non-compliant products, that means that they may be saving on the material (non-compliance with RoHS and REACH), on safety (non-compliance with the LVD), on EMC or on testing and conformity assessment costs, which brings them an unfair competitive advantage when they are placing these non-compliant products on the market.
- What can the Market Surveillance authorities do to further address unsafe and non-compliant products?
They would need to organize market surveillance campaigns by sampling and testing more and ensure identified non-compliant products are definitely removed from the market. Member States customs authorities could also stop non-compliant products at the border before they reach the market.
- How can MSSI Electrical help consumers?
Non-compliant products are a risk to the safety of people, goods and property. More compliant products on the market is reassuring consumers that they can have trust in their electrical installations.
- What does this mean for Europe's electrical equipment industry?
Non-compliant products can damage the reputation of individuals and businesses within the electrical industry. It means the industry will lose markets which could significantly impact their investment, development and employment capabilities.
- Why are third party certification organisations involved?
MSSI Electrical wants independent organisations to do the tests to ensure that tests results cannot be accused of being biased.
- Who can join the initiative and how?
Manufacturers, industry associations, conformity assessment bodies are invited to contact their local MSSI for more information.
- What role plays the European Commission in this initiative?
Market Surveillance is a Member State competence. However the New Legislative Framework (NLF) adopted in 2008 aims to improve market surveillance and boost the quality of conformity assessments. The Low Voltage Directive is aligned to the NLF since 2016.
The European Commission published a proposal on 19 December 2017 entiltled " The Goods Package: Reinforcing trust in the single market" that aims, among other things, at strengthening controls by national authorities and customs officers to prevent unsafe products from being sold to European consumers.
- Where does MSSI Electrical function, where is it in progress, where is it planned, what about the other part of Europe or the world?
The initiative is operational In France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and The UK. It is in its starting phase in Belgium and the Czech Republic.
- MSSI Electrical deals with other directives than LVD?
MSSI plans to test / tests against other directives, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) for example is very important too; REACH, RoHS.
- What’s next?
Additional local MSSI initiatives will be set-up. MSSI will gather facts and figures to feed market players with useful information.