Overview of the different labeling and marking requirements, including any restrictive advertising or labeling practices and where to get more information.
There is a broad array of EU legislation pertaining to the marking, labeling and packaging of products, with neither an “umbrella” law covering all goods nor any central directory containing information on marking, labeling and packaging requirements. This overview is meant to provide the reader with a general introduction to the multitude of marking, labeling and packaging requirements or marketing tools to be found in the EU.
The first step in investigating the marking, labeling and packaging legislation that might apply to a product entering the EU is to draw a distinction between what is mandatory and what is voluntary. Decisions related to mandatory marking, labeling and/or packaging requirements may sometimes be left to individual Member States. Furthermore, voluntary marks and/or labels are used as marketing tools in some EU Member States. This report is focused primarily on the mandatory marks and labels seen most often on consumer products and packaging, which are typically related to public safety, health and/or environmental concerns. It also includes a brief overview of a few mandatory packaging requirements, as well as more common voluntary marks and/or labels used in EU markets.
It is also important to distinguish between marks and labels. A mark is a symbol and/or pictogram that appears on a product or its respective packaging. These range in scope from signs of danger to indications of methods of proper recycling and disposal. The intention of such marks is to provide market surveillance authorities, importers, distributors and end-users with information concerning safety, health, energy efficiency and/or environmental issues relating to a product. Labels, on the other hand, appear in the form of written text or numerical statements, which may be required but are not necessarily universally recognizable. Labels typically indicate more specific information about a product, such as measurements, or an indication of materials that may be found in the product (such as in textiles or batteries).