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Summaries of EU Legislation

Product safety: general rules

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Product safety: general rules

The EU aims to ensure a high level of consumer safety when the public buy goods on sale in Europe.


Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety



It requires firms to ensure that items on sale are safe and to take corrective action when that is found not to be the case.

It introduces an EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products*. This enables national authorities to share information promptly on any measures taken to withdraw such products from sale.


  • Products placed on the EU market must be safe.
  • They must bear information enabling them to be traced, such as the manufacturer’s identity and a product reference. Where necessary for safe use, products must be accompanied by warnings and information about any inherent risks.
  • A product is considered safe if it meets specific national requirements or EU standards. If no such requirements or standards exist, the safety assessment must be based on:
    • Commission guidelines,
    • best practice in the sector concerned,
    • state of the art and technology,
    • reasonable consumer safety expectations.
  • National enforcement authorities have powers to monitor product safety and take appropriate action against unsafe items.
  • A rapid information exchange system, managed by the Commission, enables national authorities to alert their counterparts quickly to any products posing a serious health and safety risk. Separate arrangements are in place for food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
  • When using the rapid alert system, national authorities must provide information that identifies the item and its availability elsewhere in Europe, details of the risks it presents and any action taken to protect the public.
  • The Commission may take rapid EU-wide measures for up to a year (renewable) if a specific product poses a serious risk.
  • The legislation does not apply to antiques or to items that need to be repaired or reconditioned.


It has been in force since 15 January 2002.


* Product: any item intended for sale to, or likely to be used by, consumers, whether it is new, used or reconditioned.

For details, see the General Product Safety Directive.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition into the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2001/95/EC



OJ L 11, 15.1.2002, pp. 4-17

Amending act (s)

Entry into force

Transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 765/2008



OJ L 218, 13.8.2008, pp. 30-47

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009



OJ L 188, 18.7.2009, pp. 14-92


2010/15/EU: Commission Decision of 16 December 2009 laying down guidelines for the management of the Community Rapid Information System RAPEX established under Article 12 and of the notification procedure established under Article 11 of Directive 2001/95/EC (the General Product Safety Directive) (OJ L 22, 26.1.2010, pp. 1-64)

Commission communication in the framework of the implementation of the Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on general product safety (OJ C 38,17.2.2009, pp. 11-14)

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety (COM(2008) 905 final of 14 January 2009)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on consumer product safety and repealing Council Directive 87/357/EEC and Directive 2001/95/EC (COM(2013) 78 final of 13.2.2013)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council market surveillance of products and amending Council Directives 89/686/EEC and 93/15/EEC, and Directives 94/9/EC, 94/25/EC, 95/16/EC, 97/23/EC, 1999/5/EC, 2000/9/EC, 2000/14/EC, 2001/95/EC, 2004/108/EC, 2006/42/EC, 2006/95/EC, 2007/23/EC, 2008/57/EC, 2009/48/EC, 2009/105/EC, 2009/142/EC, 2011/65/EU, Regulation (EU) No 305/2011, Regulation (EC) No 764/2008 and Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council (COM(2013) 75 final of 13.2.2013)

last update 14.09.2015