Regulation on General Product Safety: towards stronger consumer product safety
On June 30, 2021, the European Commission published a Proposal for the General Product Safety Regulation to repeal Directive 2001/95/EC (General Product Safety) and Directive 87/357/EEC (Dangerous Imitations).
First and very important information for manufacturers is that the proposed Regulation would not enlarge the scope of the Directive, thus, the products covered by the Directive would not change. Nevertheless, the proposed Regulation seeks to update currently applicable rules, enlarge certain obligations, and ensure that the regime provides a greater consistency between harmonised and non-harmonised products.
Enhanced market surveillance and enforcement of rules
Current market surveillance rules and obligations of economic operators are set out in various pieces of EU legislation creating legislative overlap concerning the safety of consumer products. This leads to confusion among not only economic operators, but also national authorities. The purpose of the proposed Regulation is to create uniformed rules bringing legal certainty. Through consistency with other EU policies the Regulation would ensure clearer rules and improve their enforcement. As a result, it would facilitate cooperation between surveillance authorities.
Responsibilities of economic operators
While the current Directive sets out general obligations of economic operators to ensure the safety of products, the GPSR draft defines clearer responsibilities of manufacturers, importers, and distributors. Under improved market surveillance and product traceability the non-EU companies selling their products in the single market would be obliged to set up arrangements to ensure that the products sold in the EU have a responsible economic operator (European Commission, 2021).
In addition, the proposed Regulation introduces a concept of substantial modification where ‘a natural or legal person, other than the manufacturer, that substantially modifies the product, shall be considered a manufacturer […] and shall be subject to the obligations of the manufacturer’ (Article 12).
In case of accidents, the manufacturers are obliged to notify competent authorities of any accidents caused by products placed or made available on the market. Moreover, the importers and the distributors having knowledge of any accidents linked to their products would be required to inform manufacturers who must instruct them on the process of their notification.
Product identification and traceability
Furthermore, the new proposal for the GPS Regulation aims at greater traceability of products on the EU market. Improved information system and collaboration between RAPEX (now named Safety Gate) and ICSMS (the Information and Communication System for Market Surveillance) would allow easier identification of unsafe products making product recalls more effective.
Lastly, the proposed Regulation aims to protect consumers when shopping online. Growing online sales and new technologies are linked to new risks for the consumers, thus, new obligations of online marketplaces related to product safety are presented. To ensure effective surveillance and product recall, online marketplace would be required to register with the Safety Gate Portal.
The final text and date when the new Regulation will enter into force is yet to be decided by the EU decision making bodies. Would you like to know more? Contact us today!Get in touch
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European Council. (2021). New product safety and market surveillance rules. Retrieved on 24.08.2021 from https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/product-safety-market-surveillance/
European Commission. (2021). Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on general product safety. Retrieved on 24.08.2021 from https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/gpsr_proposal.pdf
European Commission. (2020). Consumer product safety. How product safety rules are defined and enforced in the EU. Retrieved on 24.08.2021 from https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/product-safety-and-requirements/product-safety/consumer-product-safety_en#:~:text=The%20General%20Product%20Safety%20Directive%20EU%20rules%20on,statutory%20safety%20requirements%20under%20European%20or%20national%20law.