EU Consumer Law and Policy

EU Consumer Law and Policy

Elgar European Law series

Stephen Weatherill

In many respects the consumer is supposed to be the ultimate beneficiary of the process of market integration in Europe, but the EC Treaty has never included an elaborate recognition of how the EU serves the consumer interest. This highly esteemed book, now in a brand new edition, provides a comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to the subject, explaining the evolution of consumer law and policy in the EC in terms of both legislative and judicial activity.

Chapter 9: Product Safety Regulation

Stephen Weatherill

Subjects: law - academic, consumer law, european law


COMMUNITY PRODUCT SAFETY POLICY The development of a harmonized Community system of product safety regulation ‘on paper’ is far less problematic than harmonization in other sectors. It is hardly controversial to assert that there should be a requirement throughout the Community that unsafe products should not be placed on the market. To this extent, progress towards Community norms governing the health and safety of consumers raises far fewer fundamental questions of legal culture and regulatory technique than arise in the field of legal action to protect the economic interests of consumers. However, once one moves beyond a basic agreement that the law should forbid the marketing of unsafe goods, a number of problems impede the practical development of an effective Community product safety. How can the notion of ‘safety’ be given a common meaning? One may readily suppose that different approaches prevail in different parts of the Community. There are also fundamental questions about the enforcement strategies that are required to secure effective application of the Community rules. Community legislation establishes ground rules of safety; producers are putting in place integrated Community-wide marketing strategies; yet the patterns for enforcing the law are typically tied to national- or even local-level enforcement. How can information about dangerous goods and enforcement practice strategy be shared across borders? It will be seen that the Commission has secured a relatively limited power to act in its own right; that the Community has tried to establish systems of information-sharing; but that also there have developed ‘bottom...

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