Friday, 13 July 2018

EU Parliament votes on dual quality products

On the 12th of July the EU Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), voted on the report by Olga SEHNALOVÁ (S&D, CZ) on dual quality of products in the Single Market and endorsed it along with its suggestions for amendments. 

Dual quality of food products between eastern and western states in the EU has come to the attention of the EU Commission since 2009, following complaints from Member States, with President Juncker underlining the need to take action to combat this phenomenon in 2017. 

What exactly is the problem of dual quality of products? The Report which collected evidence from Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Croatia showed that there are differences in the composition of some products otherwise identical in packaging and brand between western and eastern Member States. While all products were found to be safe to consume, the products sold in Eastern Member States were of lower quality. For example, fish sticks with a lower percentage of fish, biscuits with a lower percentage of chocolate etc. This means that these products were also more unhealthy than their western counterparts. The issue was not unique to food products but similar incidents were reported for cosmetics, pet food and cleaning products.

The Rapporteur underlined that although it is not illegal for brands to customise their products from member state to member state, consumer should be made aware of that and provided with clear information. This phenomenon undermines the trust of consumers in the internal market and creates a divide between west and east and old and new Member States.

The measures suggested to tackle this issue are three-fold.  
  1. Improving cross border cooperation and data sharing between national authorities as well as consumer organisations.
  2.  Further clarifying the UCPD on ‘dual quality products’, as it is to be amended according to the New Deal for Consumers.
  3.  The creation of a new logo by manufacturers to show that their products are the same throughout the EU.
The report will also be put to a vote at the plenary session of the EU Parliament in September and may also have an impact on the reform of the UCPD. The EU needs to send a strong message that there are not two tiers of consumers within the EU.

3 comments:

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  2. I had once been told that one reason for the dual quality was so that separate trademarks could be created for the same brand - restricting parallel imports and undermining the single market by sleight of hand.

    As to the main point - the Economist wrote about this issue last year - https://www.economist.com/europe/2017/06/29/eastern-europeans-think-western-food-brands-are-selling-them-dross

    Good to see that something has actually come of it.

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