European Union provides guidance for safe online shopping

European Union provides guidance for safe online shopping

The European Union has released guidance for safe online shopping, published within the Official Journal of the European Union, which hopes to safeguard the online supply chain.

Looking at ways in which to create a safer environment for online shoppers, the guidance hopes to generate more stringent market surveillance and enforcements in a bid to navigate towards a digital single market.

Focusing on ‘non-food products’ such as cosmetics, the report suggests that the rapid growth in online has the potential to ‘to contribute considerably to the growth objectives of the European Union (EU)’, however, it acknowledges there are challenges to consumer health and safety that go hand in hand with the progression.

The guidance reads, ‘Improved enforcement of EU rules for products sold online contributes to ensuring that non-food products are safe and compliant and further contributes to the protection of the health and safety of consumers or other end–users within the EU.’

Addressing the fear that consumers will purchase goods that are ‘escaping the authorities’ traditional controls’, the guidance acknowledges that many counterfeit products or items containing harmful ingredients will enter the EU unlawfully. As a result it is hoping to assist member states in upholding the two regulations of EU legislation on market surveillance, safety and compliance of non-food products; the General Product Safety Directive and Regulation (EC) No 765/2008.

The guidance also highlights six challenges faced by the fast-paced growth of online shopping, which include difficulty tracing products and responsible vendors, challenges in carrying out risk assessments and safety tests and difficulty in applying EU accreditation and market surveillance regulations.

Talking about the new guidance, Vera Jourova, EU Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said, “With the new guidelines, national surveillance authorities will be able to check products bought online and ensure that all products sold in Europe are safe.”

Looking at ways in which to also promote the development of the digital single market, the guidance goes on to say, “Improved product safety and compliance in e-commerce increases trust in online markets and leads to e-commerce development. Better enforcement also helps ensure a level playing field among economic operators in the traditional and online supply chains and among operators located in and outside the EU.”