The Netherlands and the EU internal market
A well-functioning EU internal market is good for the Netherlands. It ensures the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European Union. The Dutch government wants to remove obstacles to the internal market, for both members of the public and businesses.
The government’s vision for the EU internal market
A well-functioning internal market within the EU helps encourage competition. It also offers consumers more choice, better quality and lower prices for products and services.
The Dutch government wants the internal market to function more efficiently. Currently, there are too many obstacles for members of the public and businesses:
- Service providers still don’t benefit from the advantages offered by the Services Directive in all member states. The Directive is meant to make it easier for them to operate across the EU.
- For digital services, there are still too many speed bumps on the digital highway. Examples of digital services include legal music downloads and electronic invoicing and bill payment.
The government also wants the EU to encourage the free movement of knowledge, researchers and technology.
Product rules and the EU internal market
A large number of products must meet EU rules. These rules are intended to ensure that unsafe or harmful products do not enter the market. This is why many products must bear a CE marking. The CE marking shows that products satisfy EU health, safety and environmental requirements.
Manufacturers who meet EU requirements can sell their products in all EU member states.
Inspection agencies monitor EU internal market products
In the Netherlands, there are 6 inspection agencies which monitor whether products meet EU requirements. These are:
- the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), which monitors consumer products;
- the Inspectorate SZW, which monitors professional products;
- the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), which monitors products that pose environmental risks, construction-related products and transportation;
- Verispect B.V., which monitors weighing and measuring equipment;
- Radiocommunications Agency Netherlands, which monitors transmitting and receiving equipment;
- the Healthcare Inspectorate (IGZ), which monitors medical devices and medicines.
These agencies mainly focus on products which could carry health, safety or environmental risks. Special attention is paid to products which show frequent variation or deviation. The agencies also act on complaints from consumers or businesses regarding particular products, or can act on reports from inspection agencies in other EU member states.
If a product does not conform to the rules, the agencies can take a number of measures. For instance, the manufacturer, importer or distributor could be instructed to modify the product or take it off the market. Serious breaches can result in criminal proceedings. The agencies fight unfair competition by tackling businesses that break the rules.
The agencies work with the customs authorities, so customs can seize products that do not conform to the rules.
Evaluating product surveillance
Every 4 years, EU member states evaluate their market surveillance of products. The most recent Dutch evaluation report was published in October 2014.