The focus is on the well-being of the consumer, now and in the future. In the past, tariff and non-tariff barriers generally emerged as a concern for producers. Consumer and environment protection has replaced the producer and employment protection. The new generation regulations bear a relevant significance to the marketability of goods, from developing countries and countries in transition, on the EU market. Generally, EU-wide minimum levels of requirements have been set or will be set in the years ahead.
Individual member states are allowed to set additional requirements. In practice, this means that any product that conforms to the minimum requirements is allowed free movement within the EU. If any national government sets higher requirements, the local producers will have to satisfy them. Imports which satisfy the minimum EU levels will not face the higher demands.
Still, as consumer consciousness increases, quality becomes more important and consumers may prefer those products which satisfy the higher standards. Overall, it is advisable to fulfill the highest requirements. In this respect, one also has to realise that it is not the only superimposed legislation by governments which determines the high standards for safety, health and the environment. The consumer is becoming more and more critical towards products and their potential harmful effects. As referred to earlier, the ‘green’ and ‘healthy’ consumer, with an appeal to ‘light’; and responsible products constitutes an increasingly important market segment.