What is it called?

The European Commission's "'Blue Guide' on the Implementation of EU products rules" (the "Blue Guide") is a substantial and very influential piece of guidance on a wide range of EU product rules.

What is it about?

First published in 2000, the Blue Guide is a key guidance document which helps with the interpretation and understanding of EU product rules, based on the New Approach and the New Legislative Framework for the marketing of products. The Guide intends to support a uniform application of product rules across sectors and the single market. For example, it contains guidance on concepts such as "placing on the market" and the role of economic operators (such as manufacturers, importers, and distributors). It was last revised in 2016 and now needs updating due to the significant amount of new product legislation that has been adopted across Europe in the last five years. For that reason, the Blue Guide is currently under review.

Who and what does it apply to?

The Blue Guide is addressed to member states of the EU and EEA signatories, including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It also applies to Turkey in certain cases. In practice, it is an important resource not only for market surveillance authorities, but also for anyone involved in the supply of products in the EU. The Guide applies to a broad range of industrial consumer and professional products, including electrical and electronic equipment, toys, machinery, radio equipment, medical devices and PPE, amongst many others. Currently, the Blue Guide excludes certain pieces of legislation from its scope, (for example the General Product Safety Directive, REACH and chemicals legislation) however, its detailed coverage makes the Blue Guide influential in other areas.

Why does it matter?

The Blue Guide will continue to be of importance to stakeholders involved and interested in the supply of products in the EU. In addition, we anticipate that the ongoing revision will specifically address perceived challenges posed by the digital economy, e-commerce, software, sustainability and the circular economy, amongst others. Additionally, we expect that it will be updated to reflect changes brought in by new EU legislation like the Market Surveillance Regulation 2019/1020 (see our Bitesize article on this here).

Where can I find it?

The most recent version of the Blue Guide (2016) can be found on the EU Commission website here.

Are there any upcoming changes?

As described above, the Blue Guide is currently under review. In early 2020, the Commission conducted a public consultation seeking input from industry stakeholders, which we blogged about here. Revised drafts have been circulated since then, but an updated version has not yet been published. We expect it to be published very soon.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.