Today, the General Product Safety Regulation (GPSR), enters into force. The new rules seek to address major societal changes that have affected consumer product safety in the past two decades, such as increasing digitalisation, new technological developments, and globalised supply chains. This modernised framework will ensure that only safe products are offered to consumers, regardless of the origin of the products and whether they are sold in shops or on online marketplaces.
In addition, the Commission is announcing today its call for applications for the 2023 edition of the EU Product Safety Award. This competition brings together successful and talented businesses and researchers, who want to make a difference for the safety of consumers. This year, the EU Product Safety Award focuses on businesses that innovate and invest to improve the safety of young people.
New EU general product safety rules
The objective of the new General Product Safety Regulation is to ensure that all consumer products on the EU market are safe. It applies to non-food products, be they sold offline or online. The Regulation provides for a real safety net for consumers adressing safety of products or risks not regulated in other EU legislation, more specifically by:
- key elements such as the evolving nature of a product or its interconnectivity in the safety assessment of consumer products;
- improving the conditions for product safety between online and offline sales;
- establishing specific product safety requirements for online marketplaces to protect consumers against dangerous products sold via online marketplaces;
- extending the obligation for all non-harmonised products imported to the EU to have an economic operator in the EU responsible for the product safety issues;
- providing national authorities with necessary tools, thus stepping up their enforcement powers;
- ensuring effective product recalls by requiring direct contacts of consumers and standardised recall notices.
Call for application for the 2023 Product Safety Award
The 2023 EU Product Safety Award focuses on businesses that innovate and invest to improve the safety of young people. For the first time, researchers may also take part in the competition. The categories of the Product Safety Award include distinctions for both small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies, as well as for early-career and senior researchers. Applications are open until 8 September 2023.
Online sales have increased steadily in the last 20 years. Statistics from the Safety Gate showed that 31% of alerts concern dangerous products sold online. The new General Product Safety Regulation addresses these digitalisation challenges and also risks related to new technology products.
The revision of the General Product Safety Directive was one of the actions set out in the New Consumer agenda from November 2020 on strengthening consumer resilience for sustainable recovery. The Commission tabled the proposal on the General Product Safety Regulation in June 2021, with the aim of improving the safety of consumer products on the Union market and updating the general product safety framework set out in the 2001 General Product Safety Directive.The European Parliament and Council have adopted it in March and April 2023.
The EU Product Safety Award is organised every two years by the European Commission. It celebrates business initiatives and research that go the extra mile to raise the bar for consumer product safety across the EU. To apply, companies must be based in one of the 30 European Economic Area countries (the 27 EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein). Likewise, researchers need to be the nationals of one of the EEA countries or be affiliated to academic institutions based in the EEA. After an eligibility screening, a jury panel of policy and safety experts selects the finalists in each category. Winners of this year’s award will be announced during the official gala ceremony hosted in Brussels in December this year.
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The EU product safety regulation ensures our market is the global leader when it comes to safety and that European consumers are very well protected. The online sales increase steadily and with the development of digitalisation we need to follow. This important modernisation sets the EU safety principles also for the online markets so that we remain the world leader in this aspect.
Our Product Safety Rules will now respond to the challenges that face consumers in a fast-moving and digital world. The new rules ensure that companies will only be able to sell products that are safe for consumers, and that dangerous products are traceable on the global market and taken out of the market. For this year’s Product Safety Award, the European Commission want to give visibility to stakeholders, businesses and reasearchers, who lead by example and go the extra mile to ensure that young consumers are even better protected. I invite talented innovators to take part in this competition.