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International multi-lateral cooperation between regulators - ICPSC Conference

International multi-lateral cooperation between regulators

Next to our bi-lateral and tri-lateral cooperation, we engage in discussions with other countries and stakeholders about consumer product safety mainly in the context of multi-lateral cooperation efforts. Key examples of such forums are the International Consumer Product Safety Caucus (ICPSC), the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation (ICPHSO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

International Consumer Product Safety Caucus

The International Consumer Product Safety Caucus (ICPSC) is a platform to facilitate the exchange of information on consumer product safety issues in the area of governmental policy, legislation and market surveillance with a view to strengthening the collaboration and cooperation among governments and regulatory agencies around the world. DG SANCO currently holds the Chairmanship of the Caucus, which meets twice a year often in conjunction with other international gatherings on consumer product safety. Please see http://icpsc.org/ for more information.

ICPSC on Product Traceability and Tracking Labels NEW

An ICPSC project group on traceability was recently created. The group met the first time on 22 February 2011, in Orlando with the aim to further advance discussions on product traceability.

On 10 September 2009 consumer product safety regulators and market surveillance officials from around the world gathered with other stakeholders in Stockholm, Sweden for the first-ever global regulators conference on product traceability. The conference heard presentations from regulators about the requirements in place in their respective jurisdictions. Various stakeholders presented their views and solutions with respect to this important topic. For more information about this meeting, please see: http://www.icpsc.org/Stockholm_Conference.html

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International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation

The International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organisation (ICPHSO) is an international forum for stakeholders in the public and private sectors with an interest in consumer product safety. ICPHSO has held annual meetings and training symposia in North America for many years. Since 2004, ICPHSO has held meetings also in Europe and other continents.

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Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) NEW

The OECD provides a setting where governments compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies.

The OECD has been hosting talks among regulators on product safety for a number of years. The European Commission has taken active part in this process.

On 23 July 2010 an OECD Working Party on Consumer Product Safety was created. A DG SANCO representative is one of the Vice-Chairs. The working party's task is to implement a ten point action plan set out by the OECD report on enhancing information sharing on consumer product safety.

Currently in the working party, experts are making progress in designing a web-based global recalls database, which may be operational in 2011. The portal is being tailored to meet the needs of product safety agencies, but it will also be open to the public.

Work is also advancing on creating a mechanism through which countries will be able to regularly inform each other of major policy developments.

In June 2010 the OECD, in cooperation with its members, produced a report on enhancing information sharing on consumer product safety. The report sets out actions that could strengthen information sharing in short, medium and long term.

Short-term actions
1) Pool information on recalls and emergency alerts on a single website.
2) Develop mechanisms to co-ordinate international product safety initiatives more effectively.
3) Support regional and global fora: will help to i) increase understanding of domestic differences, ii) promote harmonisation of standards, iii) flag emerging issues.

Medium-term actions
4) Provide web access to studies of hazards.
5) Provide web access to updates on regulatory activities.
6) Establish restricted web directory of safety experts.

Longer-term actions
7) Reach agreement on format for injury data collection.
8) Pool information on product hazards on a web-based platform.
9) Develop confidentiality protocol for sharing research information.
10) Enhance international co-operation on traceability.

In 2009 the OECD, in co-operation with its members, set out to:

In 2008 the OECD has held a consumer product safety roundtable, where the OECD countries have committed to increasing product safety information-sharing across borders.

Cross Continent Pilot Project for Closely Aligned Product Safety Requirements NEW

The European Commission, together with product safety authorities from Australia, Canada and the United States, has launched a pilot project to improve the safety of products through bringing about highly-effective and closely-aligned safety requirements.

The pilot project covers selected products which can be dangerous for children:

In launching this project, the participants are looking to agree a common view of the hazards posed by these products and the safety measures required to manage these hazards.

A participating jurisdiction may choose to develop a regulatory approach from this consensus position. Or, it may choose to look to a standards development organization (SDO) affiliated with its domestic market to perform technical standards development from the consensus recommendations. If so, agency experts will share the consensus recommendations and encourage the SDO to work with relevant SDOs affiliated with the domestic markets of the other participating agencies to bring about closely aligned standards.

The outcome would provide high level of safety and address the ambiguity that exists where a product is considered safe in one jurisdiction and hazardous in another. This is also a response to the concern, as expressed by manufacturers, that differing product safety requirements add complexity to manufacturing and increases the risk of error.

The pilot project aims to deliver concrete results over the course of 2011 and 2012.

Pilot project E-News