Product safety standards in the EU

According to general product safety directive only safe products should be placed on the market.

Standards are developed by European standardisation organisations and are voluntary but can be very relevant to prove safety of a product. Products compliant with a standard referenced in the European Union Official Journal are presumed to be safe.

Some categories of products are covered by product specific legislation such as toys, electrical appliances, cars etc.

List of standards referenced under product specific legislation

Products for which there is no product specific legislation fall under the general product safety directive. This is the case, for example, for most childcare articles.

List of standards referenced under the general product safety directive

Emergency measures

Under certain conditions, if a product poses a serious risk, the Commission can adopt a temporary decision requiring countries to

  • ban the marketing of the product
  • recall it from consumers, or
  • withdraw it from the market altogether ​

Dangerous chemicals in products

The presence of harmful chemicals is one of the most notified risks in the Commission's Safety Gate the rapid alert system for dangerous products, counting for about a quarter of the alerts circulated in the system each year.

Examples of such products include

  • textiles
  • toys
  • cosmetics
  • tattoo ink

More information on banned chemicals

European Chemicals Agency report on phtalates, 2013

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)

Child safety

Some children's products are protected by standards: baby carriers, changing units, safety barriers etc. However, some products, even if not intended specifically for children, may be mistaken for a toy and pose a risk to them. The European Commission makes sure children are protected.

An example of these child-attractive products is lighters. Regularly updated standards ensure that only child-resistant lighters are permitted on the EU market.

Another example is products that look like food and can therefore also be harmful to children. The directive on dangerous imitations prohibits the production, import and marketing of non-edible products that look like foodstuffs, such as soaps, candles and other decorative articles. 

Internal blinds, corded window coverings and safety devices can be dangerous for children because of the risk of strangulation.

The Commission requested from the European standardisation organisations to develop a new standard that was developed in 2014. Window blinds now need to either have no chords or they need to be equipped with a safety device.

Mandates for new standards addressed to European Standardisation Organisations are regularly introduced by the European Commission.

Database of mandates for new standards

Information campaigns

Information campaigns the European Commission has participated in  include

Safety of products sold online(OECD)

Safe window covers campaign (OECD)

Button Batteries campaign (OECD)

Laundry detergent capsules campaign (OECD)

Child Safety Europe - product safety guide