Happy New Year one and all – may this finds each of you safe and hopeful for a brighter 2021.
Here's the next edition of our monthly bite-sized digest, Productwise 3-2-1 where each month, we'll be bringing to the top of your inbox (and your agenda):
- 3 key takeaways from the past month
- 2 hotbed issues you should keep your eye on
- 1 practice tip to keep you at the top of your game
This month it's all about the EU's new Digital Services Package of measures, the EU and UK reach an agreement on trade, the US IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act, proposed ecodesign and energy labelling requirements for mobile phones and tablets in the EU, proposed new EU legislation for batteries and a tip for managing an international recall.
3 top things from the month just gone
- EU Digital Services Package published, proposes important changes for online platforms, product manufacturers and suppliers. The European Commission published the much-anticipated Digital Services Package on 16 December 2020. The proposals are a response to the rise of online platforms, which have significantly changed the EU market for online products and services. The Digital Services Package will revise the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) and represents a significant new chapter in the EU's approach to regulating the online sale of products and digital services. It will have far-reaching effects for online platforms and marketplaces, as well as a broad range of businesses that sell products and services online. To find out more read our blog here. We'll be hosting a webinar on the Digital Services Package on 13 January 2021. See here to register for the webinar.
- Post Brexit trade – EU and UK reached agreement on trade. The UK and EU reached a trade and co-operation agreement on 24 December 2020, just days ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period. The agreement comprises 1,200+ pages and avoided the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal on 31 December 2020. However, it changes little of the immediate impact of Brexit in terms of product regulation for goods placed on the Great Britain market, with various new obligations (such as the UKCA mark) coming into force under new legislation from 1 January 2021 albeit with some grace periods. In terms of the future of products regulation, there are provisions to try to ensure common approaches to technical requirements and for co-operation on enforcement (such as information sharing between the UK and the EU's Safety Gate Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Non-Food Products ("RAPEX")). We'll post further analysis and updates on our Productwise blog.
- US IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act becomes law, draft guidance issued by NIST. The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act was signed into law on 4 December 2020. Under the Act, the National Institute of Standards and Technology ("NIST") is required to create standards and guidelines for the cybersecurity of IoT devices used by Federal agencies. The Act will also prohibit a Federal Agency from procuring or using IoT devices that don't comply. This legislation will have an impact on companies that supply IoT devices to the US Federal Government. However, it could also influence the future shape of cybersecurity for consumer IoT devices (e.g. where companies treat the standards and guidelines as a baseline for their products in order to be able to supply both consumers and US Federal Agencies). On 15 December 2020 NIST published four draft IoT cybersecurity documents to provide guidance for federal agencies and device manufacturers under the Act.
2 to look out for
- Mobile phones and tablets – EU looking at introducing ecodesign and energy labelling requirements. The European Commission published its plans (in the form of an Inception Impact Assessment) for two related initiatives that aim to make mobile phones and tablets more energy efficient and with improved material efficiency on 23 December 2020. The initiatives fall under the New Circular Economy Action Plan and comprise: (1) "Designing mobile phones and tablets to be more sustainable - ecodesign" that aims to ensure that mobile phones and tablets are designed to be energy efficient and durable, reparable, upgradable, easily maintainable, reusable and recyclable by introducing mandatory requirements under the Ecodesign framework; and (2) "Energy labelling of mobile phones and tablets - informing consumers about environmental impact" that aims to introduce energy labelling requirements that support ecodesign by giving consumers better information regarding product sustainability e.g. to indicate the likely battery life of mobile phones and tablets. Feedback on the Inception Impact Assessment closes 27 January 2021. The European Commission has been working on a preparatory study due to be completed by early February 2021, with a public consultation on the proposals to follow in Q2 2021.
- Proposed new EU rules for batteries. The European Commission published a draft regulation to set out new rules for batteries to repeal and replace the existing Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC). The current rules in the Batteries Directive largely address the end-of-life stage of batteries. The proposed new rules seek to introduce requirements that cover the full lifecycle of batteries, from design and production to reuse and recycling; it would include requirements that batteries must comply with in order to be placed on the EU market covering aspects of safety, sustainability, electrochemical performance and durability, labelling and information requirements (including a requirement to relay certain information via the use of QR codes) and CE marking. There are also end-of-life requirements for the collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries. Feedback on the draft regulation is open until 1 March 2021.
1 top practice tip
- When conducting an international recall, it is helpful to compile one master set of communication points to use for completing notification forms, drafting-up announcements for regulators and responding to questions from regulators around the world. This ensures consistency of communication and also saves time and duplication of work.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.