The workshop on 'Economic operators' obligation to notify dangerous products' was hosted by the European Commission in Brussels on 1 December 2006 (Friday).
Many economic operators as well as representatives of business organisations, law firms and enforcement authorities took an interest in the workshop and in total
100 people from a wide range of countries including European Union’s Member States, Australia, Canada and Japan, participated in the event.
The main objective of the workshop was to promote an obligation of producers and distributors to notify to the competent national
authorities of the Member States unsafe products placed on the EU market and to discuss both legal and practical aspects of this
obligation. Another purpose of the event was a presentation of a new IT system called ‘Business Application’, which will become
operational in the first months of 2007.
The workshop started with the KEYNOTES addressed by Ms Agne Pantelouri, the European Commission's Director for Consumer Affairs. Ms Pantelouri
stated that business, the enforcement authorities and the European Commission share the common objective of making sure that consumers buy and
use only safe products. She also stressed that the obligation for economic operators to inform the competent national authorities about dangerous
products placed on the EU market is a key element for improved market surveillance on the European single market, mainly because it enables
enforcers to act fast and allows consumers to be informed rapidly. Regarding voluntary measures taken by economic operators, Ms Pantelouri
highlighted that there is a clear indication of the willingness of many European businesses to act fast to protect consumer safety and that
the number of voluntary measures adopted in Europe is constantly growing.
Ms Pantelouri’s keynotes were followed by the presentation of business’s LEGAL REQUIREMENT to notify dangerous products to the national authorities of the
Member States, which is set out by Article 5 (3) of the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC).
Mr Stefano Soro, European Commission’s Head of Unit responsible for product and service safety presented major aspects of the obligation, including legal
framework, objectives, notification criteria and scope of the required information. Mr Soro also presented the Commission’s plans with regard to
Presentation on the legal aspects of the notification obligation was followed by the discussion on its practical aspects. Mr Adam Romanowski from
the European Commission presented ‘BUSINESS APPLICATION’, which is being prepared by the European Commission in order to support economic operators in
fulfilling their notification obligation. The Commission indicated that every effort is being made in order to bring ‘Business Application’ on stream at
the beginning of 2007.
During the workshop, the European Commission has also presented the European Rapid Alert System for non-food consumer products called RAPEX. Ms Annukka
Ojala explained scope, notification criteria, confidentiality rules as well as other relevant elements of the functioning of the RAPEX system. She also
clarified the relation between the notifications on voluntary measures submitted by business and the RAPEX notifications sent to the European Commission
by the national authorities of the Member States.
The participants had also an opportunity to listen to the point of view of a representative of the national enforcement authority. Mr Helmuth Perz from
the Federal Ministry of Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection in Austria presented the FOLLOW UP ACTIONS taken by the national authorities
with regard to a notification submitted by business. He also drew attention of the participants to the problems and challenges which the national authorities
face while assessing the notifications submitted by business.
In the last presentation of the workshop, Mr Rod Freeman from Lovells in the United Kingdom focused mainly on PRACTICAL ASPECTS of dealing with the
notification obligation. Mr Freeman presented necessary elements which need to be in place in order to correctly fulfil the business’s notification
obligation as well as giving his suggestions for successful notification.