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EU mulls upgrade to rules on machinery safety, product liability

EU mulls upgrade to rules on machinery safety, product liability

3D printing - Photo by Jonathan Juursema

(BRUSSELS) - With a view to ensuring that legislation keeps up with emerging digital technologies and innovative products, the Commission published evaluation reports Monday on EU machinery safety and product liability rules.

The EU is supporting industry modernisation with initiatives such as measures on artificial intelligence and an upcoming strategy on connected and automated driving, says the Commission, and Europe needs to seize the opportunities ahead.

For this exercise, the Commission has evaluated the EU's Product Liability Directive (Directive 85/374/EEC) and the Machinery Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC).

The published results show that both Directives are fit for purpose and conducive to innovation, according to Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

"European industry is competitive, not only because we have great innovative minds, but also because we have a conducive framework. We are happy to see that our existing legislation is fit for purpose in a changing world. It makes our EU products both safe and competitive. Technology changes fast, so we will continue to monitor the situation and are ready to act if the need arises."

The Machinery Directive sets general health and safety requirements for products, such as robots or 3D printers. Which technical solutions should be deployed to meet the high safety level is then left to manufacturers.

For this reason, the Directive functions like an umbrella framework leaving leeway for products to be innovated, says the EU executive.

The Commission says it will launch a study to further look into certain aspects of emerging technologies, such as issues arising from human-machine collaboration, which are not explicitly addressed by the Directive.

The Product Liability Directive foresees that if a product causes damage to a person or their private property, the producer is liable to pay compensation.

According to the evaluation, the Directive continues to strike a good balance between consumer protection and encouraging innovation in the EU.

The Commission will publish interpretative guidance in mid-2019 'to facilitate a common understanding between Member States and to further clarify to what extent it applies to emerging technologies'.

Evaluation of Product Liability Directive

Evaluation of Machinery Directive

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