Describes what is customary in the market for sales and customer support.
Last Published: 6/1/2016

Conscious of the discrepancies among member states in product labeling, language use, legal guarantee and liability, the redress of which inevitably frustrates consumers in cross-border shopping, the EU institutions have launched a number of initiatives aimed at harmonizing national legislation.  Suppliers within and outside the EU should be aware of existing and upcoming legislation affecting sales, service and customer support.
 

Product Liability 

Under the 1985 Directive on Liability of Defective Products, amended in 1999, the producer is liable for damage caused by a defect in his product. The victim must prove the existence of the defect and a causal link between defect and injury (bodily as well as material).  A reduction of liability of the manufacturer is granted in cases of negligence on the part of the victim.
 
Key link:
http://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/goods/free-movement-sectors/liability-defective-products/index_en.htm  


Product Safety  

The 1992 General Product Safety Directive introduced a general safety requirement at the EU level to ensure that manufacturers only place safe products on the market.  It was revised in 2001 to include an obligation on the producer and distributor to notify the Commission in case of a problem with a given product, provisions for its recall, the creation of a European Product Safety Network, and a ban on exports of products to third countries that are not deemed safe in the EU. The legislation is still undergoing review.
 
Key link: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/product_safety_legislation/index_en.htm  


Legal Warranties and After-sales Service

Under the 1999 Directive on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees, professional sellers are required to provide a minimum two-year warranty on all consumer goods sold to consumers (natural persons acting for purposes outside their trade, businesses or professions), as defined by the Directive. The remedies available to consumers in case of non-compliance are:
 
- Repair of the good(s);
- Replacement of the good(s);
- A price reduction; or
- Rescission of the sales contract.
 
Other issues pertaining to consumers’ rights and protection, such as the New Approach Directives, CE marking, quality control and data protection are dealt with in the Trade Regulations section of this report.
 
Key link: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumer_rights/rights-contracts/sales-guarantee/index_en.htm




European Union 28 Trade Development and Promotion