Product Safety

Manufacturers and distributors must:

  • supply products that comply with the general safety requirements
  • inform consumers of the risks that a product might pose and any precautions they should take
  • notify the relevant national authorities if they discover that a product is dangerous and cooperate with them on the action taken to protect consumers.

The EU member countries carry out market surveillance and enforce the product safety rules. They are assisted by EU mechanisms like RAPEX - the rapid exchange of information between EU countries and the European Commission on dangerous products.

In addition to the general product safety rules, specific rules apply to certain categories of product, such as cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

General principles of EU product safety

Technical standardisation

The EU encourages its member countries to adopt harmonised technical standards.

The basic principles of EU standardisation policy

Over the years, the approach to harmonising technical standards has changed:

  • from technical and detailed product-specific directives (the 'old approach') – which still covers foodstuffs, motor vehicles, chemicals, cosmetics, detergents, biocides and pharmaceutical products
  • to the 'new approach':
    • essential general health and safety requirements, applicable to sectors or families of products, that products must meet to be placed on the EU market (e.g. health, safety, consumer protection and environmental protection)
    • technical specifications of specific products laid down in harmonised standards (voluntary) – products manufactured according to these standards are presumed to comply with the corresponding essential requirements

Harmonised standards can be drawn up by three independent standardisation bodies:

Conformity assessment

Procedures to assess the conformity of products to the essential requirements laid down in technical harmonisation directives are carried out by:

  • the manufacturer, or
  • a third party. 'Notified bodies' in each EU country are responsible for conformity assessment when a third party is required.

More information on notified bodies

Conformity assessment procedures cover the design phase of products, their production phase or both, in a variety of ways: internal control of production, full quality assurance, etc.

Mutual recognition agreements exist between the EU and certain non-EU countries which are on a comparable level of technical development and have a compatible approach to conformity assessment.

"CE" marking

CE marking indicates that a product complies with all requirements for CE marking and that it has passed the relevant conformity assessment procedure. The CE marking:

  • consists of the "CE" marking and the identification number of the notified body involved in the assessment (when required)
  • is affixed to the product, its packaging or to the accompanying document
  • enables the product to be placed on the EU market.

Check how to affix CE marking for 25 different product groups.

The national authorities in the EU countries are responsible for market surveillance to ensure that products meet the requirements to be placed on the EU market. Surveillance can consist of documentary checks and/or physical inspections.

See also: specific information for importers.

Authorised representative in the EU

Manufacturers in non-EU countries who wish to sell their products in the EU must appoint an authorised representative established in the EU to act on their behalf. They are responsible for designing and manufacturing products that comply with all applicable requirements and for carrying out the required conformity assessment procedure.

Customs authorities shall suspend the release of goods which may pose a serious risk to health or safety or which are not accompanied by the required documentation.

New rules for marketing products in the EU

Since 2008, new rules have been in place to remove the remaining obstacles to free movement of goods anywhere in the EU.

More on the new rules on the marketing of products in the EU


Packaging marketed in the EU must meet both environmental and health requirements.

In particular, wood packages (cases, boxes, crates, etc.) must go through one of the approved treatments specified in Annex I to FAO International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 and bear the corresponding mark as specified in Annex II


Products marketed in the EU must comply with EU labelling requirements, intended to:

  • protect consumers' health, safety and interests
  • provide product information - content, composition, safe use and special precautions, etc.

New food labelling rules applying as from 13th December 2014

See also the product specific factsheet summarising the EU import requirements on:

EU Ecolabel

The EU Ecolabel or 'Flower logo' may be awarded to products that help improve the environment and provide consumer guidance on their environmental impact.

There are basic rules and specific Ecolabel criteria for different product groups (e.g. textiles, footwear, cleaning products, household appliances, paper products, etc).

Manufacturers, importers, service providers, traders and retailers may apply for the Ecolabel to the relevant authority in the EU country where the product has been placed on the market.

More information on the EU Ecolabel

See also: