- More effective procedures for product recalls and removal of dangerous goods online
- Risks for the most vulnerable consumers, like children, to be taken into account
- Costs of preventable accidents from unsafe products estimated at 11.5 billion euro per year
The agreed rules aim to ensure that all kinds of products in the EU, whether sold online or in traditional shops, comply with the highest safety requirements.
On Monday night, negotiators from Parliament and Council reached a provisional political agreement to update the EU’s rules on product safety of non-food consumer products. The new regulation on General Product Safety (GPSR) aims to address product safety challenges in online shopping (in 2021, 73% consumers bought products online).
Obligations of economic operators and safety assessment
Under the agreed rules, a product can be sold only if there is an economic operator (such as the manufacturer, importer, distributоr) established in the EU, who is responsible for its safety. When assessing product safety, Parliament included measures to guarantee that risks to the most vulnerable consumers (e.g. children), gender aspects and cybersecurity risks are taken into account.
Removal of dangerous goods online
The GPSR introduces obligations for online marketplaces, as those under the Digital Services Act, including designating a single point of contact for national surveillance authorities and consumers. National surveillance authorities will be able to order online marketplaces to remove or disable access to offers of dangerous products without undue delay and in any event within two working days. Providers of online marketplaces will have to make reasonable efforts to check randomly for dangerous products.
Recall, replacement and refunds
The agreed legislation improves the products recall procedure, as return rates remain low, with an estimated third of EU consumers continuing to use recalled products.
In case of a safety recall or warning, economic operators and online marketplaces will now be required to inform all affected consumers they can identify and widely disseminate the information. Recall notices should avoid expressions that can decrease consumers’ perception of risk (e.g. “voluntary”, “precautionary”, “in rare/specific situations”).
Consumers will be clearly informed of their right to repair, a replacement or an adequate refund (at least equal to the initial price). They will also have a right to file complaints or launch collective actions. The rapid alert system for dangerous products (“Safety Gate” portal) will be modernised to allow unsafe products to be detected more effectively and will be more accessible for persons with disabilities.
The rapporteur Dita Charanzová (Renew, CZ) said: “Today's agreement is a big victory for European consumers - it gives them a reason to feel safe buying any product within the EU. Products will be safer in general, but more importantly dangerous products will be removed more quickly, including from online marketplaces. And you will no longer learn about recalls by chance, but instead you will be informed directly whenever possible and given options to repair, replace, or get your money back. These are practical benefits for our citizens”.
Parliament (in March 2023) and Council need to endorse the agreement, before its publication in the EU Official Journal and entry into force. The GPSR would apply 18 months after its entry into force.
In June 2021, the Commission presented its proposal to update the 2001 General Product Safety Directive to address challenges linked to new technologies and online sales.
The new rules are projected to save EU consumers around 1 billion euro in the first year and approximately 5.5 billion over the next decade. By reducing the number of unsafe products on the market, the new measures should reduce the harm caused to EU consumers due to preventable, product-related accidents (estimated today at 11.5 billion euro per year) and cost of healthcare (estimated at 6.7 billion euro per year).
Yasmina YAKIMOVAPress Officer