Assuring the safety of products and services
The European Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety - GPSD - becomes strictly applicable on 15 January 2004 in the EEA territory. It supersedes the initial directive of 1992.
The new Directive has a broader scope as it encompasses not only the consumer products but all services rendered to consumers with such products. A peculiarity is that this directive must be read in conjunction with any directive covering a specific product. When such a directive exists, the GPSD ceases to apply for the aspects covered by the specific directive. This means that it still applies for what is not treated in the specific directives.
This leads to an embarrassing question: What should be retained from the GPSD in a particular case? To help finding the appropriate answer, the EC (DG SANCO) has issued a guidance document analysing the relation between the GPSD and the Toys Directive (88/378/EEC), the low voltage directive (LVD: 73/23/EEC), the directive on personal protective equipment (PPE: 96/58/EC) and the cosmetics directive (76/768/EEC). There is however no guarantee that this analysis is correct. Only the European Court of Justice may interpret the Community law.
Click here to read the guidance document (English only)
Considering that source and without any guarantee, our opinion regarding directives in our activity area is as follows:
LVD All possible risks are covered by the LVD. The GPSD provides a legal basis for current administrative practices. For the professionals, the main implications of the GPSD are: Identification of the products to assure traceability. Market monitoring and action when a problem with the product is detected. Obligation to inform the authorities of problems occurring and obligation to co-operate with them to prevent risks. Similar obligation for the distributors.
The EMC directive covering a risk and no specific products, the GPSD should not interfere. Medical Devices (MDD: 93/42/EEC) All possible risks are covered by the MDD. The administrative provisions being extensively developed within the MDD, the GPSD should not have a significant impact. In Belgium, the GPSD has been transposed by the law of 9/2/1994 amended for the last time by the law of 18/12/2002. That transposition has a much broader scope than the GPSD. Indeed, not only it covers the consumer products and services but also products and related services of the professional sphere. All products and services are concerned. Beside the fact that the scope is broader, the provisions of the Belgian law are those of the GPSD. To clarify the application of the law in the Belgian context, the authorities have issued a Q&R document. Once again, that document is not legally binding but represents the views of the authorities in that matter.
Read the Belgian Q&R document in: français, nederlands.
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