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On 8 February 2022, the European Union funded project “Support for structured policy dialogue, coordination of the implementation of the Association Agreement (AA) and enhancement of the legal approximation process for the Republic of Moldova” organised a workshop dedicated to harmonization in the area of market surveillance of non-food products, which is vital for consumer protection. It was focusing on current situation, EU legislation, priorities and needs.

The scope of the workshop was to acquaint the representatives of the Ministry of Economy and relevant agencies in the field with the implementation of EU Regulation on market surveillance and compliance of products, as well as to present the gap and needs assessment of consumer protection legislation in the Republic of Moldova.

The workshop was led by experts from the EU and the Republic of Moldova, providing an exchange platform with representatives of national public authorities to meet and discuss the challenges facing the Republic of Moldova in harmonising its legislation with relevant EU regulations in these areas, as well as discuss recommendations and explore solutions to improving national legislation. This assistance was provided to ensure the Republic of Moldova is on track and online with its commitments in the Association Agreement on further developing and implementing appropriate regulatory framework.

In addition, the EU project team presented a gap assessment on consumer protection and provided an in-depth analysis on the proposed revision of Consumer Protection in Association Agreement.

The upgrading of rules in the field of consumer protection brings daily benefits to all citizens.

For instance, in the EU, the everyday lives of consumers are impacted by consumer laws thanks to greater access to goods and services and increased protections.

EU consumer laws provide the following key rights, namely to:

◊ Truthful advertising.

◊ Have faulty goods repaired or replaced.

◊ Contracts without unfair clauses.

◊ Return most goods purchased online within 14 days.

◊ Access goods and services on the same terms as local customers.

◊ Free assistance from European Consumer Centres for problems with a trader based within the EU/EEA.

Moreover, the experts of the EU funded project have presented a gap assessment on market surveillance for non-food products in the Republic of Moldova, which also aims to further facilitate trade and exports to the European Union while guaranteeing high level of protection of consumers health and safety as well as other aspects of public interests such as protection of environment.

Aims of market surveillance

Market surveillance ensures that non-food products on the EU market do not endanger consumers and workers. It also ensures the protection of other public interests such as the environment, security and fairness in trade. It includes actions such as product withdrawals, recalls and the application of sanctions to stop the circulation of non-compliant products and/or bring them into compliance.

In order to guarantee the free movement of products, it is necessary to ensure that products are compliant with legislation and therefore fulfil requirements providing a high level of protection of public interests, such as health and safety in general, health and safety in the workplace, protection of consumers, protection of the environment, public security and protection of any other public interests protected by that legislation. Robust enforcement of these requirements is essential to the proper protection of these interests and to create the conditions in which fair competition in the market for goods can thrive. Rules are therefore necessary to ensure this enforcement, regardless of whether products are placed on the market via offline or online means and regardless of whether they are manufactured in the Union or not.

The EU-funded project “Support for structured policy dialogue, coordination of the implementation of the Association Agreement and enhancement of the legal approximation process in the Republic of Moldova” aims at increasing the capacities of the Government of the Republic of Moldova and other key national institutions in implementing the EU-Republic of Moldova Association Agreement. The project’s work is arranged into 4 components contributing to the further enhancement of structured policy dialogue with civil society, improving policy development mechanisms for adequate budgeting of strategic documents, supporting the legal approximation process by providing technical expertise and capacity building as well as upgrading the IT systems in public administration supporting the implementation of the Association Agreement. The project is implemented by a consortium led by DAI – Human Dynamics for a five-year implementation period.