General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
Objective and scope
The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) 2001/95/EC applies in the absence of specific European regulations on safety of certain product categories and complements the provisions of sector legislation, which do not cover certain matters, for instance in relation to producers’ obligations and the authorities’ powers and tasks.
The directive does not cover for example pharmaceuticals, medical devices or cosmetics, which fall under separate legislation.
General safety requirement
The Directive provides a generic definition of a safe product. A product is deemed safe once it conforms to the safety provisions provided in European legislation or national legislation of Member States adopted in accordance with EU law. In the absence of such regulations or EU standards, the references of which were published in the Official Journal of the EU, the product's compliance is determined according to other reference documents such as national standards, Commission recommendations, codes of practices.
Specific guidance documents help stakeholders to apply the GPSD to many areas where specific sector legislation exists:
Guidance document (2nd chapter) - Directives on medical devices, on construction products, on machinery, on medicinal products and on motor vehicles.
- Guidance document on relationship between GPSD and the horizontal rules on market surveillance
Specific rules also exist for the safety of toys, chemicals and other specific products.
Obligations of producers and distributors
In addition to the basic requirement to place only safe products on the market, producers must inform consumers of the risks associated with the products they supply. They must take appropriate measures to prevent such risks and be able to trace dangerous products.
Obligations of Member States
Member States are obliged to enforce the requirements on producers and distributors. They must appoint the authorities in charge of market surveillance and enforcement as well as monitor, intervene and impose penalties.
Exchange of information via the Rapid Alert System (RAPEX)
The Directive provides for an alert systembetween the EU Member States, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and the Commission. RAPEX ensures that the relevant authorities are rapidly informed of dangerous products.
Under certain conditions, the Commission may adopt a formal temporary Decision requiring the Member States to ban the marketing of a product posing a serious risk, to recall it from consumers or to withdraw it from the market.
Such Decisions at Community level can be taken:
- where the Member States have different approaches to dealing with the risks posed by such a product;
- where urgency is required, and where no other Community law exists to deal with that serious risk;
- where the serious risk can effectively be eliminated only by a Community measure.
A Decision of this kind is temporary, normally only valid for up to one year. But it may be renewed and result in permanent legislation.
Emergency measures were already taken for: Dimethylfumarate (DMF), Phthalates (substances used in plastics) and lighters.
Revision of the GPSD
Following public consultation on the revision of the current directive, the Commission proposed a new Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package , consisting of a proposal for a Regulation on Consumer Product Safety and a proposal for a Regulation for Market Surveillance of Product as well as nonlegislative documents.