Brussels, 02 March 2006
The number of dangerous products identified in the EU has risen sharply over the last year, according to the Report on the “Rapid Alert System” (RAPEX) for non-food consumer products published today by the Commission. Through RAPEX, national authorities notify to the Commission products presenting a serious risk for the health and safety of consumers, with the exception of food, pharmaceutical and medical products. Notifications almost doubled from 388 in 2004 to 701 in 2005. Close to 50% of the notifications concerned imported products. Out of all notifications, 25% referred to toys. Electrical appliances are also of serious concern. Enhanced participation from all EU Member States, joint efforts with and between national market surveillance and customs authorities, and co-operation with third countries are needed to help solve the problem.
“I am most worried by the number of dangerous products marketed in the EU” said European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou. “The RAPEX report shows the problem is there – but it also shows that counter measures can be taken. Unsafe products placed on the market are indeed detected and hindered from further marketing, and Member States and the Commission work together to exchange information on the appropriate measures. I call on EU Member States to enhance their participation in the system. However, there is still room for improvement by not just withdrawing the product from the market, but also following up on the withdrawal by making sure that the respective producer or importer is identified. I also look forward to boosting co-operation with third countries’ authorities and industry, and I have discussed this issue with my Chinese counterparts during my recent visit to the People’s Republic of China. I am confident we can co-operate to help ensure that consumers are safe in Europe – and elsewhere in the world.”
An 80% increase in notifications
Statistics show that the application of the RAPEX system and the transmission of notifications from the Member States to the Commission rose steeply during the last few years. In 2005 there has been an increase of more than 80% of serious risk notifications over the previous year. This increase can in large part be explained by improved reporting by a number of Member States, the full participation of Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and better awareness of the Directive’s requirements thanks to training courses organised by the Commission. However, the assessment of the functioning of the system in 2005 indicates that there still is an uneven distribution of notifications and reactions relating to products presenting a serious risk among Member States. Therefore there is a need for some Member States to improve their participation in the RAPEX system.
Toys and electrical appliances top the list
In 2005 more than half of the serious risk notifications concerned two
categories of products: electrical appliances and toys. This has not changed
since 2004. Looking at the nature of risk, 32% of the notifications received in
2005 identified electric shock as the main danger. This is consistent with the
high number of notifications concerning electrical appliances. As in previous
years, a high share of the dangerous products notified, originated from non-EU
countries, in particular from China. This trend is increasing. Therefore, in
addition to reinforcing co-operation with the authorities of such countries, the
Commission aims to ensure better co-operation between the market surveillance
and the customs’ authorities to help prevent dangerous products from
entering the EU market.