Circular economy, AI and product liability: The European Commission launches a new public consultation

Circular economy, AI and product liability: The European Commission launches a new public consultation

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the rules on compensation for damage caused by defective products. All interested stakeholders are invited to express their opinions on the liability of economic operators and the upgrade and refurbishment of products and components in light of the transition to a circular economy. A particular focus is given to AI-based products and services to ensure legal certainty and consumer protection in the digital age.

How is the consultation structured?

The consultation is divided into two sections:

  • Section Iconcerns the Product Liability Directive. Since 1985, this Directive has guaranteed consumers’ protection in case of injuries or property damages caused by defective products. Article 2 contains a broad definition of “product”, allowing all movables, including AI-based systems and circular economy products, to fall within the category. The consultation aims at re-evaluating the issues identified by the 2018 report on the Product Liability Directive (e.g., how to apply the Directive to complex products) and gathering new information and views on how to improve it;
  • Section IIspecifically focuses on Artificial Intelligence (AI). This section aims to promote possible adaptations of the Directive and national liability rules to meet the new challenges of the digital age: developing safe AI systems and gaining consumers’ trust. Issues related to certain types of AI (e.g., how to identify the potentially liable person or how to prove liability) are also discussed.

Who can participate?

All stakeholders are invited to express their views. Notably, the target audience includes:

  • Manufacturers, software developers, and other businesses – in particular small and medium-sized businesses;
  • Consumers, victims, and industry associations;
  • Insurers;
  • Academics;
  • Non-governmental organizations;
  • Member State authorities (EC, 2021). [GDSORD1]

How can you participate?

The European Commission has created an online questionnaire available in the official EU languages. All the inputs received will be summarized in a synopsis report, highlighting how they have been considered. All feedback will be published on the Commission’s website.

The public consultation will be open until 10 January 2022 (midnight Brussels time).


Are you a manufacturer of AI products? We will gladly assist you to reach compliance for the EU market! Contact us today!

Get in touch

Giorgia de Stefano

Regulatory Affairs Department

27.12.2021


References:

· European Commission. (2021). Commission collects views on making liability rules fit for the digital age, Artificial Intelligence and circular. Retrieved on 27/12/2021 from  https://ec.europa.eu/growth/news/commission-collects-views-making-liability-rules-fit-digital-age-artificial-intelligence-and_en

· European Commission. (2021). Public consultation. Retrieved on 27/12/2021 from https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12979-Civil-liability-adapting-liability-rules-to-the-digital-age-and-artificial-intelligence/public-consultation_en

· EUR-Lex. (1985). Council Directive 85/374/EEC of 25 July 1985 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning liability for defective products. Retrieved on 27/12/2021 from https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?