The General Product Safety Directive

EU rules on product safety are defined in the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). 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 referenced in the Official Journal of the European Union, the product's compliance is determined according to other reference documents such as other European standards, national or international standards, Commission recommendations, or codes of practice.

The General Product Safety Directive does not cover pharmaceuticals, medical devices and food, which are regulated separately. COVID-19 related products directly available to consumers, such as sanitising gels and face masks, are covered by GPSD.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESSES

Businesses must:

  • 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

To report dangerous products to national authorities businesses can use this tool Product Safety Business Gateway

RESPONSIBILITIES OF NATIONAL AUTHORITIES

Appointed national authorities 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 send information about the measures taken against dangerous products found on their markets to Safety Gate, the EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products.

Consumer Agenda and EU product safety strategy

The Consumer Agenda adopted by the European Commission November 2020 sets a number of important objectives: becoming greener and more safely digital, protecting vulnerable consumers and enhancing the international cooperation.

These issues became even more urgent following the COVID-19 outbreak, when more consumers became vulnerable, not only because of health and financial difficulties, but also because purchasing online became even more common and therefore also the exposure to scams or illegally sold products.

In this context, ensuring a high-level of protection to consumers has become even more important. The EU product safety policy, one of the pillars of the Consumer Agenda is key in order to achieve the aims it pursues.

The revision of the General Product Safety Directive

Although one of the central pieces of legislation ensuring that all non-food products sold to consumers in the EU market are safe, the GPSD has become outdated and needs to be revised to keep ensuring the safety net for European consumers.

The European Commission is currently revising the Directive to adapt to present challenges and to better ensure that all kinds of products are safe, online or in a traditional brick and mortar shop, and that all consumers are protected. The European Commission should present their proposal by end of 2021.

This revision, among others, will focus on:

  • the safety of products linked to new technologies as well as on the challenges posed by the growth of online sales;
  • ensuring a better enforcement of the rules and more efficient and even market surveillance;
  • improving the recall of dangerous products in the hands of consumers.

Steps of the revision of the GPSD:

23 June 2020 - 1 September 2020: Feedback on the roadmap

30 June 2020 - 6 October 2020: Open public consultation

30 June 2021: European Commission adopted Proposal for a Regulation on Product Safety

Documents

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