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What is the role of public authorities?

The responsibility for placing safe and compliant products on the market lies entirely with manufacturers, importers and distributors. Unfortunately, some people will only follow the rules when there is a real chance that wrongdoers will get caught.

That is why European countries have put in place market surveillance authorities. It is their role to monitor the market and protect consumers from unsafe products as far as possible. They do this by inspecting manufacturers, importers and distributors, by checking and testing products and by taking action when the rules have been broken. Such actions include recalling unsafe products from consumers, withdrawing them from the shelves, destroying dangerous goods and imposing fines or other sanctions.

Moreover, national authorities inform each other when they take measures against unsafe products. They share this information through a rapid alert system called RAPEX. This allows other European countries to take similar actions.

Finally, national authorities have to follow up complaints from consumers regarding safety problems with products.

What can you do as a consumer?

Although most European manufacturers, importers and distributors follow the rules, consumers themselves also have a part to play.

Always buy products from trustworthy shops and online outlets. They take care about the products they sell and will usually accept returns. Rogue traders, however, tend to ignore health and safety rules and may also deal in fake products. If an offer seems too good to be true, it may well be too good to be true.

Read all warnings and instructions. Be aware of age and safety recommendations, especially in the case of toys (and other children's products) – take them seriously.

Always report a safety problem with a product to the manufacturer or the retailer from whom you bought it. In addition, contact the appropriate public authority as this ensures that further steps to ensure the safety of the product will be taken.

Where to go for further information?

To find out more about legislation and market surveillance, please visit:

For a consumer perspective on CE marking, please contact:

ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation
Avenue de Tervueren 32, Box 27
B-1040 Brussels, Belgium
E-mail: anec@anec.eu
www.anec.eu

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