Indo-German exchange on coordination mechanisms in market surveillance
Market surveillance - an important element in the quality infrastructure
Market surveillance plays an important role in the economic regulatory system: it controls whether products comply with legal requirements. This ensures the safety of consumers and the environment. At the same time, effective market surveillance establishes a level playing field for economic actors and protects them from unfair competition.
Coordination of market surveillance as a demanding task
In Germany and India, market surveillance is a sovereign task that is carried out by various authorities at federal, state, and regional level. The expert exchange on 5 December 2022 focused on the resulting need for coordination between the responsible authorities. Nidhi Khare, Additional Secretary at the Indian Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (MoCAF&PD), emphasised that the event is a valuable opportunity for mutual learning within the working group.
German Market Surveillance Forum is the central coordinating body
A. R. Unnikrishnan from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) presented the legal framework as well as the practical implementation of market surveillance in India. He explained that in principle, market surveillance is the responsibility of the authority that has issued the regulation. One of these authorities is BIS, where coordination is already very well established. However, according to Unnikrishnan, there is currently no overarching framework through which the coordination on a horizontal level between the various authorities involved is carried out.
Joachim Geiß from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz - BMWK) emphasised the complexity of market surveillance in Germany’s federal system. In addition to coordination between the federal, state, and regional level, the necessary alignment with the member states of the European Union (EU) also plays an important role. Therefore, a central coordination system is needed. In Germany, this function is performed by the German Market Surveillance Forum (Deutsches Marktüberwachungsforum - DMÜF). Stephan Winkelmann from the German Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur - BNetzA) presented its role and function in more detail.
Risk assessments as a basis for decision-making for market surveillance authorities
In a following round of discussion, the participants exchanged views on further challenges in market surveillance. Among other aspects, they focused on the costs incurred and the selection and quantity of samples collected. Geiß and Winkelmann emphasised that in Germany the responsible authorities conduct a risk assessment to decide on necessary measures to protect consumers and the environment. If, for example, the formal requirements (e.g., certificates) are not fulfilled, a material investigation would usually follow. Therefore, according to Geiß and Winkelmann, coordination between the authorities is necessary to share knowledge and avoid duplication of activities.
Next steps for Indo-German cooperation
The exchange endorsed the cooperation on market surveillance within the Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure. In addition, it showed the potential for deepening this dialogue in the coming months.