Food Law News - EU - 1998

7 December 1998: PRODUCT LIABILITY - Liability For Defective Products - Extension To Primary Agricultural Products

Brussels, 7 December 1998

Liability For Defective Products - Extension To Primary Agricultural Products

The Council reached unanimous political agreement on a common position concerning the proposal to extend the producer's liability without fault for defective products to primary agricultural products and game, which were not included in the scope of the original Directive 85/374/EEC. Once formally adopted, the common position will be transmitted to the European Parliament for a second reading under the co-decision procedure.

The proposal seeks to achieve a two-fold objective: increase consumer protection, as mentioned in the Luxembourg European Council's declaration on food safety; and strengthen the internal market by removing distortions of competition, while maintaining the balance between consumers' and producers' interests, and by increasing legal certainty.

The existing product liability Directive introduced a system of liability without fault by which producers are liable for the damage caused by a defect in their product; the victim must simply provide evidence of the existence of the damage, the defect and the casual relationship between defect and damage.

Until now, the Directive does not cover primary agricultural products and game. Some Member States however, in transposing the Directive, have also included such products in the scope of their national legislation.

Further to the deliberations of the Temporary Committee of Inquiry into BSE, the European Parliament recommended that the Directive be amended in such a way as to include also these products. The Commission followed up this recommendation by presenting a proposal in October 1997.

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