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Products that have been admitted on the market in an EU Member State, are automatically admitted in all EU countries. This is the principle of mutual recognition. Exceptions to this European rule can only be made if consumer or environmental safety are at stake.
What is mutual recognition?
If a product or product type has already been admitted in another EU Member State, the Dutch government may not prohibit its sale in the Netherlands. Even if the product has been made according to technical standards that differ from Dutch standards. This is called mutual recognition. Mutual recognition ensures market access for goods that are not, or only partly, subject to EU harmonisation legislation. Its rules are defined in the EU Regulation on the mutual recognition of goods lawfully marketed in another Member State.
If you already sell a product in an EU-country, in principle it is authorised for sale in all EU-countries. You do not have to apply for permission. However, the authorities in the country you want to start selling the product, may ask you to provide more information. And they may decide to assess your product. A mutual recognition declaration can help you in such cases. You are allowed to sell your products freely during the assessment period.
Dutch government agencies may only prohibit a product or product type or withdraw it from sale if consumer protection or environmental protection issues arise.
Procedural requirements for denying mutual recognition
If a government agency in a Member State wishes to deny mutual recognition of a particular product, they must follow the procedure under the EU regulation on mutual recognition for the free movement of goods:
- The government agency (for instance the Netherlands Food and Consumer Safety Authority or the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate) will inform you (the manufacturer or seller of the product) in writing of a proposal to prohibit or withdraw a particular product or product type from trade.
- You have at least 15 working days to respond to this proposal. During this period the product or product type may remain on the market.
- The government agency will take a final decision within 20 working days after the expiry of the response period. In doing so, the government organisation will take your views into account.
- If you disagree with the government agency’s final decision, you can lodge a formal objection or submit an appeal.
If you think that national authorities have wrongly refused or restricted your products' access to their country's market, you can request assistance from SOLVIT. Every European country has its own SOLVIT service. They aim to find solutions within 10 weeks and services are free of charge.
Product Contact Point (PCP)
Every Member State has a Product Contact Point (PCP) for mutual recognition of products. They provide advice free of charge should you have any questions relating to the mutual recognition of goods. They should do so within 15 days. If you want more information about, among other things, the technical rules or administrative procedures that apply to a specific type of product in any given Member State, please contact that Member State's PCP. A PCP should also on request tell you if a product is subject to prior authorisation under national law. For more information about the requirements in the Netherlands, contact the Dutch Product Contact Point in English (or in Dutch).