EU Parliament increases the protection for online shoppers and vulnerable consumers

April 3, 2023 by
Frank Calviño

The EU Parliament reached a provisional political agreement to increase the protection for online shoppers by updating the EU’s rules on product safety of non-food consumer products. The new regulation on General Product Safety (GPSR) aims to address product safety challenges in online shopping (in 2021, 73% consumers bought products online).

Obligations of economic operators to provide protection for online shoppers

Under the agreed rules, a product can be sold only if there is an economic operator (such as the manufacturer, importer, or distributоr) established in the EU, who is responsible for its safety. When assessing product safety, Parliament included measures to guarantee that risks to the most vulnerable consumers (e.g. children), gender aspects, and cybersecurity risks are taken into account.

Removal of dangerous goods online

The GPSR introduces obligations for online marketplaces, such as those under the Digital Services Act, including designating a single point of contact for national surveillance authorities and consumers. National surveillance authorities can order online marketplaces to remove or disable access to offers of dangerous products without undue delay and in any event within two working days. Providers of online marketplaces will have to make reasonable efforts to check randomly for dangerous products.

Recall, replacement, and refunds

The agreed legislation improves the products recall procedure, as return rates remain low, with an estimated third of EU consumers continuing to use recalled products.

In case of a safety recall or warning, economic operators and online marketplaces will now be required to inform all affected consumers they can identify and widely disseminate the information. Recall notices should avoid expressions that can decrease consumers’ perception of risk (e.g., “voluntary”, “precautionary”, “in rare/specific situations”).

Consumers will be clearly informed of their right to repair, a replacement or an adequate refund (at least equal to the initial price). They will also have a right to file complaints or launch collective actions. The rapid alert system for dangerous products (“Safety Gate” portal) will be modernised to allow unsafe products to be detected more effectively and will be more accessible for persons with disabilities.

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