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EU Legislators Push for Stronger Product Safety Rules

Monday, October 21, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee approved Oct. 17 two draft regulations intended to replace the current European Union Product Safety Directive and strengthen consumer product safety requirements and market surveillance rules. According to an EP press release, the draft rules include the following provisions.

Coverage. All products sold in the EU for which there is no sector-specific safety legislation would be covered.

Origin Labels. Importers and manufacturers would have to place a country of origin label on their products regardless of whether they were made in the EU or imported. EU manufacturers would be able to choose whether to put “made in the EU” on the label or name their member state. If a good is produced in more than one country, the country of origin would be where it underwent its “last, substantial, economically justified processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that purpose and resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture.”

Safety Labels. Goods tested by an accredited third party and declared safe could be labeled with a “EU safety tested” label. It would be up to EU member states to ensure that the new label is used correctly.

Risk to Children. Products not intended for the use of children but that might appeal to them due to their design, packaging or characteristics would have to be assessed for their levels of risk.

Precautionary Principle. The precautionary principle that appears in the current Product Safety Directive would be retained, meaning “consumers will be given the benefit of the doubt and products which might jeopardize their safety will be removed from the market faster.”

Penalties. Penalties for placing non-compliant or potentially dangerous goods on the market would have to be proportionate and dissuasive and also take account of the seriousness, duration, and intentional or recurring character of the infringement as well as the size of the company.

Blacklist. The European Commission would be tasked with drawing up a public EU-wide blacklist of firms that are repeatedly found to have intentionally breached EU product safety rules. A pan-European database on product-related injuries suffered by consumers would also be established.

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