[ Background ] – [ Sectors ] – [ Key documents ]
Services constitute a large and increasing part of EU economies and are important determinants of competitiveness and growth. Their safety is a key focus area for the European Commission, which aims to protect consumers from risks and accidents that may occur when using a service.
To this aim, the European Commission collects data and information on risk and safety aspects of services in order to strengthen the knowledge base and inform policy action.
Safety of certain services to consumers
The Commission plans to launch in 2013 a wide consultation on the safety of certain consumer services. The aim of the consultation is to gather input on several issues regarding service safety as well as on the added value of European action, and to investigate gaps in existing legislation.
2012 Eurobarometer on service safety
In 2012, a Flash Eurobarometer survey questioned over 25 000 people across the EU on the safety of tourism services e.g. accommodation, organised outdoor activities, swimming pools, beauty and wellness centres, amusement parks, fairgrounds. The results show:
- Wide use of the surveyed services and the persistence of accidents;
- Consumers are most likely to report accidents when using organised outdoor leisure activities;
- Children are a vulnerable category;
- The safety issues refer to the lack of information on safety and qualified staff.
Read the full report: Flash Eurobarometer Report on Service Safety
The 2003 report
In 2003, following a wide consultation of public authorities, consumer organisations and business associations, the European Commission adopted a report highlighting gaps in the availability of data on service safety. The report suggested improving the knowledge base on accidents related to specific services as a priority, and possibly introducing a legal framework aimed at monitoring and supporting national consumer policies.
Based on this report, the Council adopted Resolution 2003/C 299/01 which mandates the European Commission to act to improve the safety of services for consumers.
At national level, there is no uniform approach or policy in place on the safety of services.
About half of the Member States have not defined ‘safety of services’ as a general policy category, focusing instead on safety aspects in specific sectors, buildings or locations, or on safety at work. Others have introduced general legislation defining general safety requirements supplemented by sector-specific legislation. There are also considerable differences in administrative organisation and procedures applicable across the EU.
Two European Commission working papers provide an overview of legislation on the safety of services:
Commission Staff Working Paper: Policies on the Safety of Services in the Acceding and Candidate Countries (2004)
analysing the situation in the then 15 EU Member States plus Iceland and Norway;
Commission Staff Working Paper: Policies on Safety of Services in Member States (2002):
providing a summary of legislation on the safety of services in the new Member States and the (then) acceding countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey. The document concludes that the situation in these countries seems to be broadly in line with the situation in the 'old' Member States. However, voluntary measures and formalised best practice in the area of safety of services seem less developed.