On 23 May 2023, the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) published the final text of the General Product Safety Regulation (GPSR). The new GPSR will replace the current Directive, the GPSD. The GPSR shall apply from 13 December 2024. Like the existing Directive, this Regulation covers products for which no specific legislation exists.
Main differences between the GPSR and GPSD
The GPSR will strengthen product compliance by improving market surveillance and enforcing EU harmonisation legislation. Among others, the GPSR includes the obligation to have at least one economic operator based in the EU, such as the importer or the authorised representative.
E-commerce and new technologies challenges
One of the main evaluation results of the existing Directive has stressed that the GPSD does not include explicit requirements to address the specificities of online selling. Indeed, an issue mentioned frequently in public consultations previous to the text adoption has been the unfair competition that some EU retailers are subject to. In particular, the problem concerns the difficulties in taking enforcement actions against operators based outside of the EU. To address these issues and ensure consumers’ safety, the GPSR includes explicit provisions for online selling, requiring manufacturers to have a responsible economic operator established in the Union. Additionally, the Regulation imposes further new obligations to providers of online marketplaces. Among others, they are required to designate a single point of contact for consumers and register in the Safety Gate Portal.
Moreover, the fast-growing sector of new technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) raised questions about the fitness of the Directive to the current era. In these terms, the GPSR foresees enhanced protection of consumer’s health and safety from new technologies and AI risks. For instance, modifications to the product through software updates might require a new risk assessment to remain compliant.
Market surveillance and product recalls
In drafting the GPSR, regulators put particular emphasis on market surveillance and product recall. The new law aims to identify products and economic operators across the markets and in the supply chain. Products will have to bear information to easily track them and identify the manufacturer and, where necessary, the importer, the authorised representative, or other relevant economic operators. Moreover, manufacturers will need to keep an internal register of complaints, product recalls, and any corrective measures taken to bring the product into conformity.
The new legislation also includes various measures taken to guarantee a more efficient products recall. Consumers are invited to register their products to receive information on recalls and safety warnings. Furthermore, economic operators should use customer data at their disposal to directly inform consumers of recalls and warnings. Just as under the current GPSD, market surveillance authorities must act against dangerous products and exchange information through the Safety Gate Rapid Alert System.
Economic operator based in the European Union
In light of the reinforced market surveillance, the GPSR introduced the obligation for non-EU manufacturers to have one responsible person – economic operator based in the EU. This requirement aligns with the Market Surveillance Regulation, whose certain provisions will also apply to products falling under GPSR. When the importer does not assume the responsibilities that an authorised representative would take, non-EU manufacturers must appoint an authorised representative based in an EU Member State.
EUR-Lex (2023) Regulation (EU) 2023/988 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 May 2023 on general product safety, amending Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Directive (EU) 2020/1828 of the European Parliament and the Council, and repealing Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Directive 87/357/EEC. Retrieved on 23/05/2023.
EUR-Lex (2021) Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on general product safety, amending Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Council Directive 87/357/EEC and Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. Retrieved on 23/05/2023.