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Speaking on the launch today of proposed revision of the General Product Safety Directive, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said:
“We wholeheartedly support updating the Product Safety Directive. This is long overdue: since it was first adopted 20 years ago, the market has changed dramatically, in particular due to digitalisation. This has further been accelerated by COVID, and we need rules which can address the many new ways in which products are bought and sold. The influx of products bought online from traders outside the EU which do not meet EU standards is one of these changes which needs effective action”.
Consumer demand is driving innovation in retail, and our sector is responding with a diverse range of digital and omnichannel options to suit individual consumers’ needs and expectations. We need EU policy and regulation to reflect these trends, and retailers need a coherent framework that:
• ensures a high level of consumer trust that the products they buy are safe;
• balances responsibilities for all market players depending on their place in the supply chain, while ensuring their proportionality;
• provides for harmonised and clear risk assessment rules for effective enforcement and recall of dangerous products;
• creates a level playing field for all businesses selling to EU consumers - whether they are established in the EU or outside;
• uses to the full the possibilities of digital technology in alerting the public to risks;
• works hand in hand, and does not overlap with the rules on platform liability under the Digital Services Act.
The undersigned cross sectorial organisations would like to draw your attention to the opportunities that digital means can bring, notably regarding product information requirements, to the benefit of businesses and citizens across the European Union, and the need for further action and leadership from the European Commission.
Increasing regulatory requirements and consumer demand for more information drives product information content online. While it is necessary for some information to remain on the physical fixture (packaging, label, leaflet etc), digitalisation can be a relevant and sustainable way to ensure information is up to date, legible and understandable. Digital tools can engage and inform consumers in an innovative, effective and efficient way thus creating a culture of better-informed EU citizens, which is key to achieving the objectives of both the green and digital transformations. In addition, digital consumer information can support sustainability objectives by reducing packaging and packaging waste.
The European Commission has recognised that digital means should play a role in providing mandatory as well as voluntary information to consumers, as evidenced at first in the European Green Deal which notes that “Europe must leverage the potential of the digital transformation, which is a key enabler for reaching the Green Deal objectives” and will “look at exploring new ways to give consumers better information, including by digital means”. This was further reinforced in various Commission initiatives including the Communication from the Commission “Shaping Europe's digital future’’, the “New EU Consumer Agenda” which aims at empowering European consumers to play an active role in the green and digital transitions and last but not least, in the “New Industrial Strategy for a globally competitive, green and digital Europe”.