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Stronger EU cooperation leads to higher consumer safety
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A total of 2,278 alerts against dangerous non-food products were made by member states during 2012, according to the latest report on the working of the EU Rapid Information system (RAPEX).  This is a 26% rise in the number of notifications compared to 2011 figures which can be attributed to the improved enforcement work carried out by the authorities in the 30 participating countries.

    Commissioner Tonio Borg

    Commissioner Tonio Borg

    Tonio Borg, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, said: "Thanks to stronger EU co-operation consumers can count on better safety in the internal market.  Europe continuously demonstrates increased capability in protecting all European citizens from dangerous non-food products. The RAPEX system is a key component in the EU's efforts to protect consumers.  Results of enforcement actions over 2012 demonstrate increased vigilance but we must always strive for improvement. This is why earlier this year the Commission tabled new legislative proposals on product safety and market surveillance".

    The five most frequently notified product categories include:

    34%     clothing, textiles and fashion items (dangerous design, ie cords or use of carcinogenic components)

    19%     toys;

    11%     electrical appliances and equipment;

    8%       motor vehicles;

    4%       cosmetics

    Among the most notified risks caused by these products were chemical hazards, a danger of strangulation and injuries such as choking or electric shocks. 

    Risks of injuries and strangulation are often identified in children's clothing with drawstrings and cords, e.g. in swimwear. Other examples of products banned in the EU in 2012 include a skin lightening product which contained hydroquinone (its use is prohibited in cosmetics and personal hygiene products) and a plastic doll containing 38.5% by weight of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) posing a chemical risk. 

    Five countries accounted for 56% of the all notifications.  The UK made 146 notifications (8 per cent) and was among the most frequent notifying countries, which were:

    Hungary (294 notifications, 15%)

    Bulgaria (271 notifications, 14%)

    Spain (199 notifications, 10%)

    Germany (167 notifications, 9%)

    China (including Hong Kong) still represents the number one country of origin in the alert system, with 58% of the total number of notifications on products presenting a serious risk.

    To improve this situation, the EU is working bilaterally with China on the exchange of information between the authorities and communication activities. The EU and China will soon release a series of videos targeting Chinese manufacturers and European importers, providing product safety information.

    Background 

    RAPEX is the EU rapid alert system between Member States and the Commission on non-food products. Its role is to disseminate information quickly on potentially dangerous consumer products.  This allows for earlier identification and earlier removal from EU markets of products that could pose a risk to consumers, such as children's clothing, textiles and electrical appliances which do not meet safety standards.

    The 30 participating countries include the 27 EU member states, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

    What are obligations of national authorities?

    National authorities ensure that businesses respect their obligation to place only safe products on the market. They must designate authorities which can take measures to prevent or restrict the marketing or use of dangerous products.

    Each country designates a national RAPEX Contact Point which coordinates the system at national level and submits information to the Commission about dangerous products found on its own market. The information received and validated by the Commission is rapidly circulated to the national Contact Points for appropriate action. The results of these activities are reported back through the system.

    UK national contact:

    Mr Michael PORTER

    Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

    Tel. 020 7215 6078

    rapex.unit@bis.gsi.gov.uk 

    What are the obligations of producers?

    Producers (both manufacturers and importers) are responsible for placing only safe products on the market. Once aware that a product is dangerous, a producer must immediately take measures to prevent further risks to consumers. National competent authorities must also be informed about the safety problem, clearly identifying the product in question, the risks it poses and the information necessary to trace it. This information is then conveyed via the RAPEX system to the Commission and other countries participating in the RAPEX system if the product poses a serious risk.

    For more information

    Further background on Rapex 2012 report: MEMO/13/438

    and for infographics

    Weekly RAPEX reports or specific data

    Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package

     

    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

    Last update: 16/05/2013  |Top