In the European Union, product liability law in the 25 member states is governed by a directive issued by the European Council. See 85/374/EEC of 25 July 1985, as amended. The member states implement the Product Liability Directive through their own national laws, most of which involve a civil-law — rather than common-law — tradition.

The Product Liability Directive — which adopted strict liability for defective products in 1985 — was so controversial that it contained a provision requiring the European Commission to report periodically on how the directive is being implemented and applied in the member states and recommend whether the directive should be amended. On Sept. 14, the European Commission issued its third report, which recommended against further amendments to the directive, but offered suggestions for how the member states can harmonize their application of the directive in individual cases. See Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/com/2006/com2006_0496en01.pdf.

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