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Public consultation on the rules on liability of the producer for damage caused by a defective product

Public consultation on the rules on liability of the producer for damage caused by a defective product
Published on: 10/01/2017 Last update: 04/10/2017
Deadline: 26/04/2017
The European Commission launched a public consultation on the evaluation of Directive 85/374/EEC on the liability for defective products. The contributions that were received are available below.

The aim of this public consultation was to collect stakeholders' feedback on the application and performance of the Directive on liability for defective products. In particular:

  • whether and to what extent the Directive meets its objectives of guaranteeing at EU level the liability, without fault of the producer, for damage caused by a defective product
  • whether it still corresponds to stakeholders’ needs
  • if the Directive is fit-for-purpose where new technological developments, such as the Internet of Things and autonomous systems, are concerned

The results of the public consultation provided evidence to assess the extent to which the Directive has been effective and efficient, relevant (given the needs and its objectives), coherent with other EU policies, and whether it has achieved EU added-value.

The consultation consisted of 3 online questionnaires for producers, consumers and public authorities. The questionnaire was available in English and 22 other official EU languages. 

With this consultation the Commission sought the views of all interested parties, and in particular of producers and insurers, business representatives, consumers, as well as public authorities and researchers.

The consultation ran until 26 April 2017.

At the same time, the Commission launched a consultation on the 'Building the European Data Economy' package which addresses the free flow of data, and a series of emerging issues relating to data such as ownership, access, re-use, portability and liability.

The questionnaires that were used can be found below:

 

Background information

Directive 85/374/EEC on the liability for defective products guarantees the liability of the producer in the event of damage caused by malfunctioning products. The Directive lays down a common rule for liability without fault of producers at EU level. It offers a real possibility to consumers to claim financial compensation for death or personal injuries, as well as for damage caused to an item of property intended for private use with a threshold of €500.

The Commission has regularly reported to the Council and Parliament on the application of the Directive. In the last report of 2011, the Commission concluded that there was no sufficient evidence of problems in the application to justify a proposal for amendments, noting as well that any amendment to 1 or more provisions would affect the overall balance of the Directive. The next (5th) report covering the period 2011-2015 will be published in 2017.

However, there are currently discussions on the adequacy of the Directive to face the challenges raised by new technological developments, for instance, the Internet of Things or autonomous systems.

As a result of this, and due to the fact that since its adoption in 1985 the Directive has not been subject to any formal evaluation, the Commission took the opportunity to launch an evaluation to assess the functioning and the performance of the Directive. This evaluation will also allow the assessment of whether the Directive is fit-for-purpose in relation to new technological developments.

 

Contributions

The contributions to the public consultation have been published.

See also:

Brief factual summary of the public consultation on the rules on producer liability for damage caused by a defective product

Position papers received during the public consultation on the rules on producer liability for damage caused by a defective product