As consumers rights are gaining momentum on the agenda of regulators worldwide, GS1 was invited to present for the first time at the most influential conference on product safety, organised by the European Commission. I had the chance to explain to participants how the GS1 system is key to enable compliance, consumers’ protection and boost product safety.
GS1 participated in a panel with Monique Goyens, Director General, BEUC (European Consumers Association), Daniele Sartori, Quality and compliance director, Artsana, Yunsong Wang, Deputy Director General of the Bureau of Quality and Development, State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), and Tim Lorenz, Managing Director, Reer.
The European Commission and some national regulators are willing to update the General product safety directive, to enable more efficient recalls and to enhance consumers’ safety also when they buy online. Since open standards for product identification and data sharing are already implemented by industry, GS1 stands ready to engage more with businesses and regulators to allow, among others, the identification of single components or of single substances inside finished articles and to link locations identification with product data.
One important element in this discussion was the DIGITAL TWIN concept. In order to achieve safety goals, it’s important for companies and policymakers to enable the digital twin transition to allow data exchange in an interoperable, open and structured way. The link between the physical product and the digital one is made by the standards, by a common language now including also B2C.
One other important element is about SERIALIZATION. GS1 standards and rules allow identification of products at unit level, and discussions with industry and regulators are important at this regard to understand to what extent and for which categories of products this may be encouraged for safety reasons.
It was really good to see that businesses in Europe are looking for new ways to contribute to product safety. During the conference, two additional online marketplaces, bol.com and eMAG, signed the EU Product Safety Pledge, after Wish.com, AliExpress, Amazon, eBay , Rakuten France, Allegro and Cdiscount.
The pledge commitment is to: “take actions to keep online shoppers safe from harmful products”. From the EU Commission’s perspective, this should contribute to “the faster removal of dangerous non-food consumer products offered for sale online”.
Our main message that I delivered at the conference was that there is no real product safety without efficient product identification. GS1 capabilities to track and trace products are key. The data exchanged along the chain creates value for all, including consumers, industry, safety Authorities and operators of the sectors involved.