The General Product Safety Directive
EU rules on product safety are defined in the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD), which ensures that only safe products are sold on the market.
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 complements sector specific legislation such as specific rules that apply to toys, electrical and electronic goods, cosmetics, chemicals and other specific product groups. It applies to consumer products when there are no specific provisions with the same objective in the rules of EU Law governing the safety of the products concerned. That means it applies totally to products such as child care articles or certain COVID-19 related products, such as sanitising gels and certain type of face masks and only residually to products where sectorial legislation exists such as toys or electrical appliances.
The GPSD does not cover pharmaceuticals, medical devices or food, which fall under separate legislation..
RESPONSIBILITIES OF BUSINESSES
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
EU countries are responsible for market surveillance on their territory, through their national authorities. Appointed national authorities:
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.
The new General Product Safety Regulation
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of legislation ensuring that all non-food products sold to consumers in the EU market are safe, the GPSD has become outdated and needed to be revised to keep ensuring the safety net for European consumers.
The European Commission has replaced the current Directive with a new General Product Safety Regulation 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 new General Product safety Regulation enters into force on 12 June 2023 and will start to apply on 13 December 2024.
More about the General Product Safety Regulation
The Rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products
The Safety Gate Rapid Alert System enables national authorities of EU and EEA countries and the European Commission to quickly exchange information on dangerous non-food products. Products that present a risk to health and safety can be traced and swiftly taken off the market.
If a dangerous product is found in any of the countries that participate in the system, and measures are taken by the national authorities, they should send information about the product, the risks linked to the product and measure taken to the Safety Gate Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products.
The information sent by the national authorities is published daily on the Safety Gate.
Market surveillance authorities cooperate closely with customs, which play a major role in protecting consumers from any unsafe products imported from outside the EU.
Consumer Safety Network
The Consumer Safety Network is a consultative expert group chaired by the European Commission and made up of national experts from the administrations of EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The safety of consumer products as well as general product safety issues are the main areas of discussion.
The network meets on average three times a year.
Consumer Agenda and the 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.
Press release 12 June 2023
General Product Safety Regulation