Brussels, BELGIUM – The Council of the European Union adopted the position of Member States on the revision of the Directive on the Liability for Defective Products (PLD) today.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) takes note of the decision, but is surprised to see that such an important proposal, with wide-ranging implications for consumers and businesses alike, was adopted by the Council without any debate.
While the new PLD risks disrupting today’s carefully-balanced framework that governs the liability of economic operators in the EU, the impact of the changes brought by the revision have not been thoroughly considered since the European Commission proposed it in September 2022.
Going forward, EU decision makers are encouraged to make sure the proposal properly reflects the realities of the tech sector. Otherwise the PLD risks hampering innovation and driving up insurance costs for businesses in the EU, which in turn would make products more expensive for Europeans.
Most problematic is the suggestion to include standalone software and AI in the definition of what constitutes a “product” under the PLD, even though neither are tangible goods, as well as the extension of damages to psychological health and to data corruption and loss.
Other changes that would be burdensome for businesses, without necessarily improving consumer protection, are the de facto reversal of the burden of proof – with consumers no longer having to prove that a defective product caused damage – and the obligation for companies to disclose evidence in the broadest sense as part of legal proceedings.
The revision of the PLD is a technical and complex file, but its impact on consumers and companies should not be underestimated. CCIA Europe hopes that the upcoming interinstitutional negotiations will be used to address the PLD revision’s remaining flaws. Those negotiations will start once the European Parliament adopts its position in early July.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe’s Senior Policy Manager, Mathilde Adjutor:
“Decision makers should carefully evaluate the concrete impact these new EU product liability rules will have on European consumers and businesses. Nobody will benefit from far-reaching changes to Europe’s already-strict liability regime if they are adopted without much discussion or reflection.”