New European guidelines aim to improve safety of products sold online

BEUC NEWS 01.08.2017

On July 28, the European Commission issued guidelines to help national market surveillance authorities better control products that are sold online. These guidelines come ahead of new European measures, expected in the coming months.

More and more consumers shop online, with products being directly delivered to one’s door. Part of these products could be dangerous or in violation of EU product safety laws.

Yet often they elude the controls of market surveillance authorities, putting consumers’ health and safety at risk. This is because traditional controls focus on spot checks in brick-and-mortar shops. In an era of e-commerce, this is insufficient to cover the breadth of consumer shopping.

The European Commission’s new guidelines aim to improve this situation. They clarify:

  • That any product sold online in the EU has to comply with EU product legislation, even if the producer is based outside the EU.
  • The obligations of online shops when authorities require them to remove dangerous products.
  • The responsibility of all actors in the supply chain, including those who store, package and ship products to consumers.

BEUC welcomes these guidelines as they clarify legal obligations along the supply chain. However, legal changes may be necessary to improve the safety of products, including those that are sold online. In some Member States there is, for example, no legal basis to do mystery shopping and acquire the necessary samples through ordering products online.