Draft EU Product Safety Regulation (GPSR-E) - the main proposed amendments of the European Parliament

Draft EU Product Safety Regulation (GPSR-E) – the main proposed amendments of the European Parliament

On June 30, 2021, the Commission published its proposal for a General Product Safety Regulation (GPSR-E) to replace the existing Directive 2001/95/EC of December 3, 2001 (the so-called General Product Safety Directive). Despite agreeing to reform European product safety law by means of regulation, the Parliament criticized the Commission’s draft in many respects and therefore introduced far-reaching proposed amendments as part of the legislative process at the end of last year.

The main proposed additions and changes include:

Clarification of definitions and more proportionate obligations on economic operators

  • Introduction of some necessary clarifications on key definitions such as on “product” and “safe product” to give greater certainty to authorities and economic operators. The revised definitions should avoid court cases and a heterogeneous application.
  • A restructuring of Chapter II on safety requirements to better clarify all stages leading to the safety assessment by the relevant economic operator and to the presumption of safety.
  • Modification of the list of obligations on economic operators, such as on the previsions for manufacturers on technical documentation and complaints received (Art. 8 GPSR-E), in order to have a proportionate approach when dealing with small producers and low-risk sectors.

Digitalization of information

  • Introduction of Art. 19a GPSR-E (“Information requirements in electronic format”) to enable economic operators in the digital age to provide some key information in a digital format (such as technical documentation, instruction and safety information).
  • This will increase transparency and consequently safety of products while reducing bureaucracy for economic operators.

Online distribution from third countries

  • Unsafe products sold online from third countries should not enter the single market. A pragmatic and proportionate way needs to be found to address new challenges posed by products directly sold online from third countries.
  • According to the European Parliament, the extension of the so-called responsible person in Art. 15 GPSR-E should be limited only to those categories of products where evidence suggests the need to have such provision.

Online marketplaces

  • Art. 20 GPSR-E (“Specific obligations of online marketplaces related to product safety”) has been extended to include targeted obligations to online marketplaces that are inspired by best practices and voluntary initiatives already in place. This will serve to better inform consumers, especially on actions taken with regard of dangerous products, and on possible remedies.
  • Strengthening the exchange of information between platforms, traders and market surveillance authorities.
  • With the newly added Art. 20a GPSR-E (“Additional voluntary commitments of online marketplaces”), online marketplaces are supposed to make additional and voluntary commitments in form of memoranda of understanding to set up further concrete actions to strengthen the safety of products. Such goals and measures include:
    • Measures preventing the reappearance of dangerous products online
    • Exploiting the potential use of new technologies for an improved market surveillance
    • Investment in training for online traders

Consumer safety network and International cooperation

  • In Art. 28 GPSR-E (“Consumer safety network”), new areas of cooperation have been added and the objectives clarified in order to strengthen the existing cooperation between national authorities and the Commission.
  • The proposed amendments to Art. 36 GPSR-E (“International cooperation”) aim to ensure the overall level of safety and a level playing field.

Penalties and entry into force

  • The proposed amendments to the penalty provisions are made to better take into account both the nature and the gravity of the infringement.
  • The date of application of the regulation is to be extended from six to twelve months after its entry into force, according to the ideas of the European Parliament, the required time foreseen for the application of new provisions is too short in light of the significant changes.

In the meantime, the Council has drafted a compromise proposal, which we will analyse soon in our blog.

Do you have any questions about this news, or would you like to discuss the news with the author? Please contact: Dr. Gerhard Wiebe