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EU-US Regulatory Cooperation: Strides Made, but More Can Be Done

Earlier this week, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center released a significant report, “International Regulatory Cooperation:  Benefits, Limitations, and Best Practices.”  This report builds on earlier work done by the Center and examines opportunities to improve regulatory cooperation between the European Union and the United States.  The report is timely because negotiators from the U.S. and the EU this week are continuing their discussions to hammer out the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement.

The study examines the efforts of three federal agencies—the Food and Drug Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission–to foster regulatory cooperation with counterpart agencies in the EU.  I was honored to be asked by the University to author the case study on the CPSC.  The CPSC case study builds on my experiences over an eight-plus year time span as a CPSC Commissioner, when I saw first-hand the need for collaborative efforts among jurisdictions internationally to address the issue of import safety. The study looks at the potential benefits of and limits and barriers to regulatory cooperation.  It includes recommendations for changes that I believe would improve the agency’s ability to work with its foreign counterparts to improve safety, including greater engagement on both a technical and policy level, greater cooperation on enforcement matters, and supplier training and other efforts to build regulatory capacity of countries developing export markets.  The report identifies ways to reduce unnecessary regulatory divergences (and related wasteful regulatory costs) such as alignment on testing and standards, sharing of data and more active consideration of unnecessary differences when promulgating or reviewing regulations.

The CPSC has a good track record working with its foreign counterparts to enhance consumer safety. However, given the growing complexity of both consumer products and the global marketplace, consumer safety will demand even greater and more creative work among regulators but that work needs to minimize the unnecessary regulatory burdens that come from an unimaginative approach to regulation.

I would welcome feedback to the recommendations made in this report and am happy to discuss the recommendations more fully.

Nancy Nord joined OFW Law after completing an eight-year term as a Commissioner on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, serving from 2005 through 2013.  Ms. Nord was Acting Chairman of the CPSC from July 2006 until June 2009.

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