General product safety directive
EU rules on product safety are defined in the general product safety directive. Under the directive a product is safe if it meets all statutory safety requirements under European or national law.
If there are no regulations or EU standards, the product's compliance is determined according to other reference documents such as national standards, Commission recommendations, codes of practice.
Safety of products sold online
More and more consumers shop online. The proportion of sales online has been growing compared to the total of sales. Online shopping is convenient for consumers but it also poses certain challenges for product safety. For this reason, on 1st August 2017 the Commission issued a Notice on the market surveillance of products sold online to help public authorities with their work.
On 25th June 2018, several online marketplaces have voluntarily committed to improving the safety of non-food consumer products sold on their online marketplaces by third party sellers with the signature of a Product Safety Pledge. The initiative sets out specific voluntary actions that go beyond what is already established in the EU legislation. The ultimate goal is to improve the detection of unsafe products marketed in the EU before they are sold to consumers or as soon thereafter as possible, and to improve consumer protection.
The directive does not cover the following products, which are regulated separately
- medical devices
Responsibilities of businesses and authorities
It is the responsibility of businesses and national authorities to ensure that only safe products are for sale.
- only place products which are safe on the market
- inform consumers of any risks associated with the products they supply
- make sure any dangerous products present on the market can be traced so they can be removed to avoid any risks to consumers
Appointed national authorites are responsible for market surveillance. They
- check whether products available on the market are safe
- ensure product safety legislation and rules are applied by manufacturers and business chains
- apply sanctions when necessary
National authorities also send information about dangerous products found on the market to the Safety Gate, the rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products.