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Brussels, 19 April 2007

Consumers: Commission publishes 2006 Annual Report on dangerous consumer products

Improved EU-wide cooperation between customs authorities has led to an increase in the number of dangerous consumer products - from teddy bears to hairdryers, cleaning sprays, mini-motorbikes, cigarette lighters and ski boot bindings - removed from the EU market last year. The Annual (RAPEX) Report on dangerous consumer products published today by the European Commission shows that toys took over from electrical appliances as the product category most often notified. China was indicated as the country of origin in almost half of all cases notified (440 notifications, 48%). In total, restrictive measures concerning 924 dangerous products were reported through RAPEX last year, compared to 701 in 2005 - representing a 32% increase. Through RAPEX, the Rapid Alert System for non-food consumer products, national authorities notify the Commission of products presenting a serious risk for the health and safety of consumers, with the exception of food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. This information is rapidly shared among all other surveillance authorities in 30 European countries, and dangerous products are then banned or their sale is restricted on the market. The Commission is calling for enhanced participation from all EU Member States, joint efforts with and between national market surveillance and customs authorities, and co-operation with third countries to further increase the effectiveness of the system.

“This Rapid Alert System is a powerful watchdog and an excellent example of European value added" said European Commissioner for Consumer affairs, Meglena Kuneva, "The constant increase in the number of measures notified is a good sign, it shows that vigilance across Europe is getting better and better. Today's annual report shows that the system in 2006 is working better than ever before. My task is to make it grow to its full potential."

A 32% increase in notifications

The number of notifications has risen steeply during the last few years. In the second year after the entry into force of revised rules governing non-food consumer product safety in Europe, the number of notifications relating to products presenting a serious risk has more than doubled from 388 in 2004 to 924 in 2006. In 2006, there was an increase of 32% in relation to 2005 for serious risk notifications. Over 40% of all notifications concern voluntary measures taken by businesses - a considerable year-on-year increase. This is a clear indicator of growing safety awareness on the part of European economic operators.

Five countries accounted for 60% of all notifications:

  • Germany (144 notifications, 16%),
  • Hungary (140 notifications, 15%),
  • Greece (98 notifications, 11%),
  • United Kingdom (92 notifications, 10%),
  • Spain (79 notifications, 9%).

The assessment of the functioning of the system in 2006 indicates that there is still 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

Most frequently notified products included:

  • toys (221 notifications, 24%),
  • electrical appliances (174 notifications, 19%),
  • motor vehicles (126 notifications, 14%),
  • lighting equipment (98 notifications, 11%),
  • cosmetics (48 notifications, 5%).

Toys, electrical appliances and motor vehicles alone accounted for more than half of the notifications in 2006. This is in line with the previous year's results. The main difference is that for the first time, toys took over from electrical appliances as the product category most often notified.

Most frequent risks

The five main risk categories were:

  • injuries (274 notifications, 25%),
  • electric shock (270 notifications, 24%),
  • fire risk/burns (194 notifications, 18%),
  • choking/suffocation (157 notifications, 14%),
  • chemical risk (95 notifications, 9%).

Main country of origin

The People's Republic of China was indicated as the country of origin of the notified product in almost half of all cases (440 notifications, 48%). To address this, the Commission has intensified its cooperation on product safety with China. Given the fact that China has rapidly become one of the biggest exporters of consumer products to Europe, in 2006 the Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a Roadmap for safer toys to improve the safety of incoming products.
The RAPEX Report 2006 is available in English, French and German at:

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