On 5 April 2016, the EU Commission published an updated version of ‘The “Blue Guide” on the implementation of EU product rules’, the most authoritative EU guidance on the application of product-related directives and regulations to goods destined for the EU market. Significant changes have been introduced to bring the Blue Guide up to date with modern sales techniques, particularly sales by online operators – a notable omission in previous drafts. In this regard, new language has been introduced to address explicitly how product-related legislation should apply in the context of online sales. For example, the 2016 version confirms that products offered for sale online by retailers based outside of the EU will be considered “placed on the market” if the website is specifically targeted at the EU and the product in question has completed the manufacturing stage. This is the case even though market surveillance authorities and customs can only undertake a physical compliance check when the product reaches customs in the EU. Other changes of note include:
- guidance on the information that needs to be made available via an online retailer’s website in advance of a consumer purchasing a product online.
- confirmation that spare parts should generally be viewed as in scope of EU product legislation unless specifically excluded.
- acknowledgement that rental products are not re-placed on the market every time that they are re-rented out.
- commentary on the use by online operators of fulfilment houses and their role in the product supply chain.
- guidance on how to update Declarations of Conformity where the underlying product regimes they reference are being repealed and replaced and no transitional periods have been provided for.
- guidance on when Declarations of Conformity need to be translated and by whom.
- confirmation of when instructions for use (as opposed to safety information) can be provided to customers in a non-paper format.
- a slightly modified approach to manufacturer and importer address marking requirements where both entities form part of the same corporate group.
Baker & McKenzie will continue to assess the implications of the 2016 Blue Guide over the coming months. A copy of the Guide is accessible here.