Consumer law in Europe

Consumer safety in the EU


The European Union (EU) has consumer safety legislation to ensure all products meet high standards and do not put consumers at risk. Producers and suppliers of goods must not break these rules.

There are general rules in place which relate to all products. However, there are more specific rules for:

  • Genetically modified substances - they must be clearly labelled so that consumers can make an informed decision about whether to buy them or not.
  • Cosmetics - there are strict rules in place about the testing of cosmetics.
  • Foodstuffs - there are many rules in place about the production of foodstuffs, such as the need to check all ingredients throughout the food production chain.
  • Toys - it is vital that all toys are sufficiently tested to ensure they are safe for the age of child they are produced for. Toys that meet EU standards can show the CE conformity marking.
  • Explosives and pyrotechnics - it is an offence to supply unsafe fireworks, to sell fireworks to a person under 18, or sell fireworks all year round without the correct licence. You must also be licensed to store fireworks.

Some European Economic Area (EEA) countries may have their own additional national laws on consumer safety which you should also be aware of.

If you are a UK business looking to set up in another EEA country, you should contact your local Chamber of Commerce for detailed information. 

You can also get help in any EU country using the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) - a group of business advice organisations across the EU.