Since 1985, the European ''New Approach'' to product safety legislation has reduced administrative regulation to the indispensible minimum in order to provide entrepreneurs with a great deal of freedom in fulfilling their responsibilities to the public in the way that best applies to their business. In Germany, the relevant EU legislation on product safety has been implemented in the Act on making products available on the market (Product Safety Act, ProSG). Its provisions affect 90 percent of all consumer goods and technical equipment such as protective clothing, tools and machinery, to name a few.
Only the essential requirements stipulated in the Annex of the respective EU directives are mandatory. The European Commission provides an overview of the relevant EU legislation on its website. As long as these mandatory requirements are met, businesses are essentially free to choose the technical solutions that ensure a sufficient standard of safety. The conformity with safety requirements is, however, assumed, if the product applies to the norms and standards that were harmonized within the European Union. Such compliance is to be documented by conformity markings, such as the CE-marking, or the EU marking for food commodities. In addition, sufficient safety instructions are to be provided alongside the product. More information on CE marking and other labeling requirements is available in our section "Norms and Standards."
Authorities constantly monitor the safety of goods sold on the Single European Market and utilize the European Rapid Alert System (RAPEX) to ensure that the market is quickly informed about dangerous products. In addition to assuring product safety, foreign importers and manufacturers also have to be aware of the considerable liability risks that may arise from reasonably foreseeable misuse of their products in cases where users were not instructed properly.
Particularly stringent rules apply to products that are either to come into contact with the human body directly or with food for human consumption. Some of the German legal provisions even go beyond the European standard. This is especially true for everyday objects that are not used for food, such as toys, textiles and jewelry. In these cases, placing a product on the German market may need a special permit from the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL - Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Nahrungsmittelsicherheit). Further information is available on the website of the BVL.
For further details on the requirements for specific products please refer to our "Business Sectors" section.