The European Commission is in the final stages of consultation on a revision to the General Product Safety Directive (published in 2001) covering the safety of non-food consumer products, which would result in it becoming a regulation. In the initial roadmap consultation document from 2020, the EC described the reasons for the need to revise the GPSD following significant changes in the consumer product market since the 2001 regulation was drawn up:
- Product safety challenges linked to new technologies – It is estimated that by 2020 the number of connected devices will reach 500 billion worldwide
- Product safety challenges in the online sales channels – The increasing market share of online selling (in 2018, 69% of internet users in the EU made online purchases) creates new challenges.
- Insufficient recall effectiveness – The effectiveness of product recalls from consumers is low which means that too many dangerous products still remain in the hand of consumers
- Market surveillance rules are complex and not fully effective – Market surveillance rules are not fully effective, which may lead to higher occurrence of dangerous products and risk of losing consumers’ trust.
- Inconsistent application of product safety rules for food-imitating products – The legal framework for food-imitating products is applied differently from country to country currently.
The key elements specifically related to product recall are:
- “The manufacturer shall ensure that, through the Safety Business Gateway…, an accident caused by a product placed or made available on the market is notified, within two working days from the moment it knows about the accident, to the competent authorities of the Member State where the accident has occurred”.
- Ensuring that product recall notices are “…clear, transparent and clearly describe the risk at stake, avoiding any terms… that may decrease consumers’ perception of risk”.
- “Terms that should not be used include “voluntary”, “precautionary”, “discretionary”, “in rare/specific situations” as well as indicating that there have been no reported accidents”.
- “Consumers should also be able to get more information, if needed, via a toll-free telephone number or other interactive instrument”.
- How companies go about notifying customers about a recall is also considered and must allow for “the widest possible reach including, where available: the company’s website, social media channels, newsletters and retail outlets and, as appropriate, announcements in mass media and other communication channels. Information shall be accessible to consumers with disabilities”.
- “Companies selling in the single market from outside the EU will have to set up arrangements to ensure that the products sold in the EU have a responsible economic operator”.
- “The system of traceability shall consist in the collection and storage of data, including by electronic means, enabling the identification of the product, its components or of the economic operators involved in its supply chain”.
- The proposal also includes specific elements addressing safety issues associated with products sold online.
For the text of the proposal for the new regulation on general product safety, click here.
For the initial roadmap/inception impact assessment describing the need for the new regulation and options for revision published in 2020, click here.