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RAPEX: system for the rapid exchange of information

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1) OBJECTIVE

Contribute to consumer safety and consumer health protection by putting in place an information system on dangerous products.

2) COMMUNITY MEASURES

Council Decision 84/133/EEC of 2 March 1984 introducing a Community system for the rapid exchange of information on dangers arising from the use of consumer products.

Council Decision 89/45/EEC of 21 December 1988 on a Community system for the rapid exchange of information on dangers arising from the use of consumer products.

Amended by Council Decision 90/352/EEC of 29 June 1990.

Council Decision 90/651/EEC of 4 December 1990 on the adaptations necessary in the context of German unification to the Community system for the rapid exchange of information on dangers arising from the use of consumer products.

Council Decision 93/580/EEC of 25 October 1993 concerning the institution of a Community system for the exchange of information in respect of certain products which may jeopardise consumers' health or safety.

Council Directive 92/59/EEC of 29 June 1992 on general product safety.

3) CONTENTS

Decision 84/133/EEC established an organised system for the exchange of information on products liable to endanger the health and safety of individuals. This system was incorporated in the later decisions and was finally enshrined in the context of the Directive on general product safety.

This system provides that when a Member State adopts emergency measures to prevent, restrict or impose specific conditions on the possible marketing of a product by reason of a serious and immediate risk presented by the said product to the health and safety of consumers, it shall forthwith inform the Commission.

The system concerns products intended for consumers which are supplied whether for consideration or not in the course of a commercial activity and whether new, used or reconditioned. However, the system does not apply to pharmaceutical products, to animals, to products of animal origin and to radiation emergency situations which are subject to equivalent notification procedures.

The rapid exchange system comes into operation when a product is shown to present a serious and immediate risk for the health and safety of consumers. This risk is assessed on a case by case basis by the national authorities.

When a serious and immediate risk has been identified, the authority consults, where possible and appropriate, the producer or the distributor in order to obtain information on the product and the nature of the hazard. This must make it possible to take measures to ensure consumer protection while minimising interference with trade.

When a Member State takes measures to eliminate a risk whose effects may extend beyond its territory, it must immediately inform the Commission.

The information transmitted to the Commission contains details:

  • to identify the product, in particular its nature and characteristics;
  • describing the nature and severity of the dangers in question;
  • on the measures which the Member State has adopted;
  • on the supply chain.

This information must be transmitted in writing as rapidly as possible. In certain conditions it may be considered as confidential.

The Commission verifies this information and circulates it to the other Member States which, in turn, immediately inform the Commission of any measures adopted. The Commission may also contact the authorities of the country presumed to be the country of origin to carry out the necessary verifications.

In exceptional circumstances the Commission may institute an investigation to supplement the information received or convene the Committee on Product Safety Emergencies established by Directive 92/59/EEC.

The Commission endeavours to:

  • avoid unnecessary duplication in dealing with notifications;
  • make full use of its expertise;
  • keep the other services fully informed;
  • ensure collaboration between the different committees.

When the Member State that has taken an emergency measure wants to modify its legislation by adopting technical specifications, the latter must be notified to the Commission in compliance with Directive 83/189/EEC laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations.

Currently, the rapid exchange of information system comprises two contact points - one network for food products and one for non-food products. The list of contact points and officials responsible for these networks is disseminated only to the Members of the network.

4) DEADLINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LEGISLATION IN THE MEMBER STATES

Directive 92/59/EEC: 29.06.1994

5) DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE (if different from the above)

  • Decision 84/133/EEC: 07.03.1984 (applicable until 07.03.1988)
  • Decision 89/45/EEC: 27.12.1989 (applicable until 30.06.1990)
  • Decision 90/352/EEC: 11.07.1990 (extends application of Decision 89/45/EEC until 29.06.1994)
  • Decision 90/651/EEC: 11.12.1990
  • Decision 93/580/EEC was applicable until 29.06.1994
  • Directive 92/59/EEC is applicable from 29.06.1994

6) REFERENCES

Official Journal L 70, 13.03.1984
Official Journal L 17, 21.01.1989
Official Journal L 173, 06.07.1990
Official Journal L 353, 17.12.1990
Official Journal L 278, 11.11.1993
Official Journal L 228, 11.08.1992

7) FOLLOW-UP WORK

8) COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

Report -COM(88) 121 final
Commission Report of 11 March 1988 on the system for the rapid exchange of information on the dangers arising from the use of consumer products pursuant to Article 8(2) of Council Decision of 2 March 1984 (84/133/EEC).
After reviewing the operation of the alert and monitoring system established by Decision 84/133/EEC and describing equivalent systems (pharmaceutical products, animal health), the report presents an assessment that confirms the value of RAPEX as an alert system and crisis management instrument.
An annex to the report features a list of subjects in respect of which rapid information has been exchanged.

Report -COM(90) 172 final
Commission Report of 4 May 1990 on a Community system for the rapid exchange of information on the dangers arising from the use of consumer products pursuant to Article 8(2) of Council Decision of 21 December 1988 (89/45/EEC).
In two years the Commission received 98 notifications, including both food and non-food sectors. This system has contributed to preventing accidents and enabled dangerous products to be withdrawn from the market. However, the report says that there is room for improvement because:

  • sometimes duplication of effort occurs when a product is notified both to DG III and the Consumer Policy Service or when a particular case is discussed by several committees;
  • certain notifications seem inappropriate and, bearing in mind the risks of unjustified economic repercussions, it is important to verify the grounds for a notification;
  • there are some difficulties concerning the rapid identification of products on the market, since the notifications do not always contain sufficiently detailed information.

Report - SEC(92) 618 final
Commission Report to the Council of 7 April 1992 on a Community system for the rapid exchange of information on the dangers arising from the use of consumer products.
This report reviews the working of the system and distinguishes between food and non-food products, which are handled by separate networks within the Commission.
As regards the non-food sector, the number of notifications has considerably increased, mainly in respect of electrical appliances. This increase is due to the introduction to more effective market surveillance methods in the Member States. To address this growing workload, which is liable to become even greater with the integration of the system in the Directive on general product safety, the report advocates the development of a dedicate software package and an integrated database with a view to ensuring sound management and follow up.

 
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