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Online sales of unsafe products

Question écrite de M. Kris PEETERS - Commission européenne

Question de M. Kris PEETERS,

Diffusée le 24 février 2020

Subject: Online sales of unsafe products

Research by a number of consumer organisations has shown that a significant number of products sold through digital platforms such as Amazon, AliExpress and eBay do not meet European safety standards. These include baby toys with loose parts, balloons containing carcinogenic substances and smoke detectors that do not work properly.

However, under the current legal framework, digital platforms are only required to remove these unsafe products from the platform when problems are identified and they do not need to be proactive to prevent the sale of the products in question.

Unfortunately, in practice, products are often offered for sale again after having been identified as not complying with European safety standards. Various consumer organisations therefore want such digital platforms to be made to assume greater responsibility.

1. How does the Commission view attempts to lay greater responsibility on such digital platforms, for example through the imposition of liability and fines?

2. What initiatives does the Commission intend to take to address these issues, for example through the legislation on digital services?

3. What is the Commission’s timeframe for launching such an initiative?

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 7 mai 2020

Answer given by Mr Reynders on behalf of the European Commission

(8 May 2020)

The Commission is aware of the challenges of the safety of products sold online.

The Commission has taken several actions to support Member States in this regard. The Commission has issued guidance (1) on the market surveillance of products sold online, and it funds online coordinated safety enforcement actions as well as training for Member States on online market surveillance tools.

The Commission has also facilitated the signature of the Product Safety Pledge (2) by six major online marketplaces that have committed to take voluntarily action for improved safety of products sold online by third party sellers.

In addition, Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 (3) will provide market surveillance authorities with additional tools for surveillance of online sales of products covered by EU harmonisation legislation.

The Commission will further clarify the role and responsibilities of online platforms in the Digital Services Act. It will update the EU framework for digital services and the respective obligations of online platforms to address the dissemination of illegal goods and content. The Act will deepen the internal market and reinforce the oversight over platforms’ content policies in the EU.

The Commission is also preparing a proposal to revise the General Product Safety Directiv e (4). The preparatory work for this proposal is looking into different elements that would further improve the safety of products sold online.

⋅1∙ Commission Notice on the market surveillance of products sold online (2017/ C 250/01).


⋅3∙ Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on market surveillance and compliance of products and amending

Directive 2004/42/EC and Regulations (EC) No 765/2008 and (EU) No 305/2011, OJ L 169, 25.6.2019; in particular Articles 4, 6, 7(2), 10(5) and 14. ⋅4∙ Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety.

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