Product safety legislation to be updated for the digital era
The European Commission issued a proposal to update the General Product Safety Directive on 30 June 2021. The reform’s key objective is to update the 20-year-old regulation to better suit the digital operating environment.
Legislation on consumer safety for consumer goods is based on the EU’s General Product Safety Directive. The current Directive (2001/95/EC) dates back to 2001. Digitalisation, e-commerce and new technologies have changed the operating environment related to product safety significantly in the past 20 years, making the amendments to legislation necessary. The proposal is part of the implementation of the EU’s New Consumer Agenda and aims to improve the functioning of the internal market.
The proposed new product safety regulation would apply to the regulation of consumer products that are not subject to more specific safety requirements under EU law. The general objective is to ensure a high and consistent level of consumer safety for products both in traditional and online commerce. In addition to the safety requirement, the proposal contains provisions on the obligations of economic operators, the responsibilities of online marketplaces, market surveillance, traceability of products and harmonisation of product recalls. The proposal requires Member States to lay down provisions on penalties for non-compliance with the obligations. In addition to provisions on non-compliance, the EU Regulation will result in amendments to national legislation, in particular the Consumer Safety Act (920/2011).
On 16 September 2021, the Government submitted a communication to Parliament concerning the Commission’s proposal. The Government supports the proposal in general and emphasises that the reform must not cause unnecessary burden on the operators and that the obligations should be placed on appropriate operators. Taking the safety challenges posed by new technologies into account in product safety regulation is welcomed, and in this context, attention should also be paid to the technology neutrality of regulation. The Government supports clear regulation on official procedures and cooperation while unnecessary administrative burden is to be avoided.
Emilia Tiuttu, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 127