Brussels, 15 January 2004
Safety first new laws for product recalls
EU-wide rules applicable from today are designed to improve the safety of consumer products. The revised General Product Safety Directive (GSPD - 2001/95/EC), adopted in 2001 and entering into force today concerns safety controls of all consumer products (except food). It sets safety requirements for consumer products such as sports- and playground equipment, child care articles, lighters and most household products such as textiles and furniture. The Commission receives around 150 notifications of dangerous products annually, most often associated to risks of choking and suffocation, electric shocks and fires. The category of products more often notified is toys, followed by electric appliances and products. David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said: "For the first time manufacturers have the legal obligation to inform authorities if a product is unsafe. These are recalled and taken of the market. Also for the first time the Commission can even now initiate recalls and provisional bans to assure the same level of protection for the entire EU. This is very good news for consumers."
The new rules are:
Clarifying the rules
The EU's rules on product safety are a mixture of laws applying to specific products or sectors and general laws applying to all products. The revised GPSD clarifies the relationship between its general rules on product safety and product or sector specific laws. Detailed guidance on how the GPSD relates to the Toys Directive, the Directive on Equipment with Voltage Limits, the Directive on Personal Protective Equipment and the Cosmetics Directive is available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_safe/prod_safe/gpsd/guidance_gpsd_en.pdf The revised GPSD further clarifies that products that "migrate" from professional to consumer use for example, power tools primarily intended for builders that become available for sale or rent to consumers in DIY shops are covered by its rules, as are products supplied to or used by consumers as part of a service.
More effective use of standards
Compliance costs for businesses should fall as the revised GPSD makes more effective use of standards from bodies such as CEN and CENELEC. Products complying with certain Europe-wide standards will be deemed to meet safety requirements in all Member States.
An initial list of these standards will be published later this year. It is likely to include standards relating to childcare products such as cradles, cots and baby-soothers.
European Product Safety Network
The Directive establishes a European Product Safety Network, enabling national consumer protection authorities to pool expertise and share information. The Commission hosted several preparatory meetings of this Network, the last on 19 December 2003, in anticipation of the new GPSD coming into force. Work is underway on establishing a list of potentially dangerous products of EU-wide concern, with a view to Member States dividing up the work of monitoring and testing them. This should mean more products being scrutinised more quickly at little or no extra cost to tax payers around Europe.
For more information about the revised General Product Safety Directive see: