One of the main objectives of the European Commission through this proposal is to allow each and every EU citizen to have compensatory collective redress tools at national level.
Objectives of the Directive
The Directive 85/374/EEC on liability for defective products (Product Liability Directive) seeks to ensure that:
- Products introduced to the EU market are safe;
- Innovation is strengthened;
- Consumers who suffer injury because of defective products are able to claim compensation when damage occurs.
The main challenge, in the age of digitalization, lies in a fair balance of risks between consumer, distributor and producer.
Within the period 2000-2016, the recurrence of claims in the EU, subject to national case law, can be clustered by different product categories1:
- 52% of the claims are related to three product categories;
- Raw materials (21%);
- Pharmaceutical products (16%);
- Vehicles (15%).
- Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances amounted to more than 12%;
- Although involving lesser percentages, the following sectors are also represented:
- Chemicals (7%);
- Agricultural goods (7%);
- Electrical machinery and equipment and others (6%);
- Food & beverage (3%);
- Clothes and accessories (2%);
- Cosmetics (nearly 2%).
 Final Report on Evaluation of Council Directive 85/374/EEC on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning liability for defective products, EU publications, 05.07.2018, p.20
Directive-related claims are settled through direct negotiation in 46% of the cases, whereas 32% are resolved in court and 15% through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) systems. Only a small share (7%) of the claims under the Directive are settled through other means, such as settlements with the insurer of the responsible entity.
Broken down per Member State, 60% or more of the claims are settled:
- In court in Estonia, France, Poland, Romania and Finland;
- Through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as arbitration, mediation, negotiation, conciliation or other mechanisms provided for by national legislation in Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania;
- Through direct negotiation in Czechia, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Cyprus, Portugal and Sweden;
- Through settlement with the insurer, in Slovenia.
 Final Report on Evaluation of Council Directive 85/374/EEC on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning liability for defective products, published on 05.07.2018, p.18
The following table shows the development by number of claims per year from the year 2000 to 2016, adjusted per new Member State entries.
Other legal initiatives demonstrate the EU's strategic, permanent interest in product safety. The responsibilities of economic operators are also notably addressed by the precautionary principle, the General Product Safety Directive, the Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package.