EU Council closes in on product legal responsibility rulebook –

The EU Council of Ministers is near formalising its place on the brand new product legal responsibility guidelines, primarily based on a compromise textual content circulated this week, seen by EURACTIV.

The Product Legal responsibility Directive is a legislative proposal supposed to convey Europe’s product legal responsibility regime consistent with the digital age by overlaying software program – and, due to this fact, Synthetic Intelligence.

The Swedish presidency circulated a brand new compromise textual content on the draft legislation, dated 23 Could and seen by EURACTIV. The textual content principally clarifies sure key features, such because the scope and the situations for the member states to manage particular conditions additional. The timeline was additionally prolonged.

An EU official instructed EURACTIV the EU Council is ready to endorse a basic method to the Directive in June, which appears to be confirmed by the light-touch amendments. A attainable date for the subsequent technical assembly on the file at the moment circulating on 12 June.

Technical or scientific complexity

The Directive supplies that nationwide courts can presume the defectiveness of a product or a causal hyperlink between the harm and the defectiveness in some particular instances the place these are too advanced for the defendant to show, significantly because of technical or scientific complexity.

This provision is especially necessary as it would apply to advanced applied sciences akin to Synthetic Intelligence, the place it is likely to be close to to unimaginable for a defendant to show the defectiveness of an AI mannequin.

On the similar time, an financial operator may free itself from legal responsibility if it proves that the state of scientific and technical data on the time didn’t permit for locating the product’s defectiveness.

Nevertheless, the EU nations have launched a provision stating that they will introduce nationwide laws that limits such a aid of accountability in instances the place they deem it will unduly restrict folks’s safety.

Thus, nationwide governments can introduce new measures or modify present ones to increase legal responsibility in such conditions to particular sorts of merchandise, so long as they’re essential and justified by public curiosity targets, specifically public coverage, public safety and public well being.

The Fee is empowered to subject a non-binding opinion inside six months for the reason that nationwide measure is notified to facilitate a coherent method throughout the bloc. Till then, the measure is placed on maintain.

In accordance with an explanatory footnote, the adjustments goal to make clear the article’s rationale, that it’s a notification slightly than an authorisation process and that the Fee doesn’t have veto energy over the nationwide measures.


The draft legislation signifies that open software program supplied at no cost and outdoors a business exercise is excluded from the scope of the legal responsibility guidelines.

Nevertheless, the textual content clarifies that if a producer integrates the open-source software program as a element of its product and it consequently causes a defect, the legal responsibility would fall on the producer slightly than the software program supplier.

“To make clear that the producer of open-source software program developed and provided outdoors of a business exercise shouldn’t be liable even when the software program is subsequently built-in into one other product after which positioned in the marketplace,” a footnote explains.

Machine-to-machine communication companies have additionally been positioned throughout the scope.


The EU Council clarified that web entry companies are to not be thought of as a service associated to a product and due to this fact sit outdoors the Directive’s scope. On the similar time, if a product depends on web entry to take care of security and it loses connectivity, it will likely be deemed faulty.

The specification is necessary for Web of Issues merchandise, units capable of join and trade knowledge. Beneath the upcoming Cyber Resilience Act, the producers of such related units can be obligated to make sure safety patches are rolled out all through a sure time.

The compromise clarifies that, though the defectiveness of a product ought to take into account the way it was introduced, the legal responsibility beneath the Directive can’t be circumvented by merely placing warnings or different data “since defectiveness is set solely by reference to the security that the general public at massive is entitled to anticipate”.


The timeline for the brand new legal responsibility guidelines has been prolonged to merchandise positioned in the marketplace 30 months after the Directive enters into drive, a timing that’s aligned with the repealing of the earlier legal responsibility regime.

For the member states, the deadline to transpose the Directive into nationwide legislation was prolonged to 2 years after it entered into drive. “A transition interval of six months was launched to provide financial operators and others time to adapt to the brand new guidelines,” the textual content stated.

Legal responsibility

Producers could be answerable for a faulty element that they built-in into their product. Nevertheless, an injured individual can search compensation both from the product producer or the producer of the faulty element in as far as the element is taken into account a product.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

Learn extra with EURACTIV

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