EU countries: general product requirements

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO

Products that are intended for sale and use in the European Union or European Economic Area (EU/EEA) must comply with legal requirements on safety, health, and the environment. If you are a manufacturer, brand owner, or importer, you are responsible for ensuring that your products comply with all applicable European product requirements.

The product requirements described below are general and apply to several sectors. Therefore, in addition to these product requirements, please read the information on specific EU product requirements and CE marking.

Product safety

Directive 2001/95/EC requires that producers only bring safe products onto the European market. A producer is a manufacturer established in the EU/EEA area, the representative of a manufacturer established outside the EU/EEA area, or the importer of the goods.

The directive covers products that are intended for consumers or that consumers are likely to use. Producers must offer information to consumers so that they can assess the health and safety risks related to the products. With this information, consumers can protect themselves.

The directive is used when specific EU regulations on the safety of a product are lacking or insufficient.

Producers must specify their identity and contact information on their product (or product packaging). They must also state the product reference or batch to which the product belongs, unless they have a justified reason for not doing so.

National requirements and EU standards

Products are considered safe when they comply with specific national requirements or EU standards. If these requirements or standards do not exist, the assessment of safety must be based on:

  • recommendations from the European Commission;
  • best practices in the relevant industry;
  • the current state of the technology;
  • the safety that a consumer may reasonably expect.
Based on the directive, European harmonised standards have been agreed for various consumer products. These apply to the following products:
  • sports and fitness equipment
  • bicycles
  • inflatable articles for water recreation
  • different types of furniture
  • items for infants and young children

Exclusions

The directive does not apply to foodstuffs, pharmaceutical products, and medical devices. Separate rules and procedures apply to these products. Antiques and products intended for repair are also excluded.

Unsafe products

If a product is found to be unsafe, its suppliers must inform their national market authorities (pdf) as soon as possible and take appropriate measures. For example, they can withdraw the product from the market.

If national authorities notice there are products in circulation that pose serious safety or health risks, they must notify the European Commission through the Safety Gate information exchange system. In this way, they can limit or prevent the spread of dangerous products.

Official texts

European legislation

Dutch legislation

More information

Origin marking

Most products manufactured, imported, or traded in the EU, do not require a country of origin mark ('Made in ...').

However, origin marking is mandatory for certain foodstuffs (such as meat products) and for cosmetics imported from outside the EU. Origin marking is also mandatory if an indication or image on the product brings to mind a different country from the country of origin.

The origin marking must refer to the country in which the product is 'wholly obtained' or the country in which the product has undergone 'its last substantial processing'. The conditions for these terms are explained in the 'non-preferential rules of origin' of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 and its additional regulations.

If there is any doubt about determining the country of origin of a product, you can request a Binding Origin Information (BOI) from the National Origin Team (LOT) of Dutch Customs in Arnhem.

Official texts

More information

Language requirements

For many product categories, the EU has legal language requirements for product labels, packaging markings, technical instructions, manufacturers' declarations, and user instructions. These language requirements are often part of EU health and safety measures for specific product groups (such as CE marking and REACH/CLP).

For high-risk products, the minimum requirement is usually the language(s) of the EU member state where the products are marketed. For other products, EU measures leave room for national policies so that EU member states can decide for themselves which language or languages are required or allowed in their country.

EU Ecolabel

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary European eco-label for various non-food products and services. The aim of the label is to promote sustainable production and consumption within the EU/EEA. Companies may only use the EU Ecolabel if their product complies with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 66/2010 on the EU Ecolabel.

An important condition is that hazardous substances in products have been substituted by safer substances. You can find the conditions per product group in the section Product Groups and Criteria on the EU Ecolabel website.

You can apply for an EU Ecolabel for the following product groups, among others:

  • growing media and soil improvers
  • cosmetics and hygiene products
  • cleaning products
  • lubricants
  • clothing and textile products
  • do-it-yourself products
  • consumer electronics
  • floor coverings
  • wooden furniture
  • household equipment
  • various paper products

In the Netherlands, entrepreneurs can apply for an EU Ecolabel at Stichting SMK (in Dutch).

Also read

More information

Mutual Recognition: on the freedom to sell products within the EU.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO