Pilar de la Barcena, from the EC, told the Nutraingredients’ Sports Nutrition Congress last week (Tuesday September 24th) that businesses have been let down by the EU’s Mutual Recognition policy which states that a product lawfully marketed in one member state must, in principle, be admitted in another member state.
Barcena said several sports nutrition businesses have found this policy hasn’t worked for them in practice because there is a lack of awareness of how it works, a lack of legal certainty over whether it will work and a lack of co-operation across national authorities.
She said: “Mutual recognition has the potential to bring added value to the free movement of goods but it doesn’t function well because most economic operators don’t rely on mutual recognition and prefer adapting their products or give up the market and those that do often face a denial.”
The EC wants to help companies can find out if their products can be sold in another EU country in a matter of months, rather than years.
“We have an action plan to increase awareness and reliance on mutual recognition through dedicated training to national authorities and businesses. We want to make it a more reliable tool,” added Barcena.
Trust and clarity
Barcena said the EC is training national authorities to ensure they understand how Mutual Recognition works and encourage them to utilise and trust it.
To create more legal certainty, clarity has been written into the rules as to when goods can be considered as ‘lawfully marketed’ in another member state - when they comply with the relevant rules applicable in that member state and the product has been made available to end users in that member state.
‘Tick box’ document
The commission has also created one all-encompassing document that businesses can use to demonstrate that their product is is lawfully marketed in another member state.
Claudia Mucciardi, vice chair of the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), said this new document would save businesses a lot of time and resources.
“Sometimes I can provide multiple sources of information to show a product is compliant in other countries and I will still get multiple refusals to enter the market," explained Mucciardi.
“It will definitely be useful to have one key document which will almost act like a tick box because the issue at the moment is that you always wonder whether you are providing enough information to be sufficient evidence. If there’s one specific document to fill out then that will remove that uncertainty and it should cut out a lot of wasted time and back and forth.”
Cutting costly legal battles
The EC has also said it will step in to assist in cases where businesses and member states are in dispute in order to cut down on the number of cases that end up in court.
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