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ANTICSS - ANTI-Circumvention of Standards for better market Surveillance

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ANTICSS (ANTICSS - ANTI-Circumvention of Standards for better market Surveillance)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

"The topic of manipulated testing results or ‘circumvention’ recently received a lot of public and media attention, not only for car emissions (diesel-gate), but also with regard to other EU legislation. For this reason, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme funded the project ‘ANTICSS –Anti-Circumvention of Standards for better market Surveillance’.
Overall objective of the project is to assess and clearly define ‘circumvention’ in relation to EU Ecodesign and Energy labelling legislation and relevant harmonised standards, assess the potential impacts of circumvention and to prevent future circumvention acts under EU Ecodesign and Energy labelling.
Circumvention of ecodesign and energy labelling legislation so far is a rather untapped area. Although different cases of circumvention were observed in the past, the overall magnitude of circumvention is not known. Evidence for circumvention is available for selected product types within some product groups but the problem has not yet been studied in general and moreover there is not a clear and agreed definition of what ‘circumvention’ actually is. The topic is highly important for society as detection and/or avoidance of circumvention contributes to the following aspects:
- Through detection and prevention of circumvention, targeted reductions of electricity and resource consumption for product groups covered by EU ecodesign and energy labelling legislation will be better achieved.
- The overall trust of consumers, companies and society in the reliability and effectiveness of EU legislation will be strengthened.
Overall measures to detect and eliminate circumvention are highly important to prevent imitators in the market. Detection and penalizing of circumvention will demonstrate to market actors that market surveillance is aware of such strategies and concrete action will be taken against parties trying to circumvent legislation.
In our recent market surveillance experience some cases presented elements of possible ""circumvention"".We need a clear definition of ""circumvention"" and practical tools to detect and prevent it."
The analysis of circumvention has been based on collecting and learning from cases of circumvention by literature research as well as by analysing existing EU Ecodesign and Energy labelling legislation and standards for possible loopholes. In order to obtain further evidence from the market, the team has organised a stakeholder consultation, approaching in total 278 experts from suppliers, market surveillance authorities, test laboratories as well as consumer and environmental NGOs to gain evidence or further insight into circumvention cases and feedback to the preliminary ANTICSS definitions of circumvention and jeopardy effects. In total, 38 organisations have provided their feedback and 39 “suspect” product cases have been reported. The ANTICSS project team analysed these cases in detail to assess their allocation to the categories ‘circumvention’, ‘jeopardy effects’, ‘non-compliant’ or ‘compliant’.

As result, the following definitions of circumvention as well as jeopardy effects have been developed by the ANTICSS project team:

Circumvention is the act of designing a product or prescribing test instructions, leading to an alteration of the behaviour or the properties of the product specifically in the test situation in order to reach more favourable results for any of the parameters specified in the relevant delegated or implemented act, or included in any of the documentations provided for the product. The act of circumvention is relevant only under test conditions and can be executed e.g.
a) by automatic detection of the test situation and alteration of the product performance and/or resource consumption during test, or
b) by pre-set or manual alteration of the product, affecting performance and/or resource consumption during test, or
c) by pre-set alteration of the performance within a short period after putting the product into service.

Jeopardy effects encompass all other design aspects of products or test instructions, or interpretation of test results which do not follow the goal of the EU ecodesign and/or labelling legislation of setting ecodesign requirements and providing reliable information about the resource consumption and/or performance of a product.
These effects may be not classified as circumvention, but become possible due to loopholes or other weaknesses in standards or regulations.

According to the understanding of the ANTICSS project team, circumvention and jeopardy effects can be clearly delimitated from ‘non-compliance’. The ecodesign and energy labelling legislation states that ‘non-compliance’ can be determined only by Market Surveillance Authorities through product inspection, i.e. laboratory testing, and/or checking of the data and information provided in the technical documentation and/or any other information provided by the manufacturer or supplier against the requirements and conditions as defined in the legislation and standards. In contrast, circumvention and jeopardy effects do not make a product appear as non-compliant during testing. In the first instance products appear to comply with all the requirements and conditions, but the test results are specifically influenced, resulting more favourable for the manufacturer, by the use of circumvention behaviour or by the exploitation of (possible) weaknesses or loopholes in standards and legislation.

Finally, also the potential relation between circumvention and so called ‘smart’ products with specific embedded software has been analysed by the project.
In the second half of the project, alternative test procedures to better detect circumvention by testing will be developed and through testing a certain number of appliances within the ANTICSS project, the impacts 'if' and 'how much' energy consumption and/or functional performance modifications could be ascribed to circumvention will be assessed.
Based on the results, ANTICSS will provide practical capacity building measures for key actors of market surveillance and test laboratories, support communication and collaboration platforms between major stakeholders and provide policy recommendations for policy makers and standardisation bodies to prevent future circumvention under EU Ecodesign and Energy labelling. ANTICSS project is also designed to provide reliability to manufacturers by specifying potentially vague legislation and standards which might be interpreted differently by market actors and some of them taking unfair advantages so far. By overall awareness raising on circumvention among stakeholders, ANTICSS is supporting an effective EU legislation enforcement and thus increasing acceptance and trust of market actors and civil society into the Ecodesign and Energy labelling legislation.
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