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European Commission - Fact Sheet

Questions and Answers on the Safety Gate for dangerous products

Brussels, 5 April 2019

Today, the European Commission presented the results and achievements of the Safety Gate in 2018.

 See IP/19/1992

 

What is the Safety Gate for non-food dangerous products?

In 2018, the European Commission renamed the European Rapid Alert System for non-food dangerous products to the Safety Gate. This system is a building block of the Single Market. It ensures that information about unsafe products withdrawn from the market, rejected at imports and/or recalled from consumers anywhere in Europe is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission, so that appropriate action can be taken everywhere in the EU. All EU Member States together with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway participate in the system.

The system was established by the General Product Safety Directive and became fully operational in 2004.

What is covered by this system?

The system records measures taken against unsafe, non-food, consumer products (e.g. toys, cosmetic products, clothing, childcare products) as well as professional products (e.g. machinery, lorries), that pose a serious risk to the health and safety of citizens and to the environment.

Pharmaceutical products, medical devices as well as food and feed are excluded from the scope of this Safety Gate as they are covered by their own specific alert systems.

What is the role of national authorities in the system?

The role of national authorities is to ensure that businesses respect their obligation to place only safe products on the market.

In case unsafe products are offered for sale or detected on the market, these products must be removed or banned. To ensure that these measures are also known by the other European countries and are swiftly followed Europe-wide, this information is circulated via the Rapid Alert System. This is done via designated national contact points that coordinate the information exchange at national level. Alerts submitted are validated by the Commission and rapidly circulated to the participating countries for appropriate action. The results of these follow-up activities are reported back through the system.  

What is expected from businesses?

Once aware that a product is dangerous, producers, importers or distributors must immediately take the necessary action to correct this situation and cooperate with national market surveillance authorities. To facilitate compliance with the requirement, the IT tool called “Business Gateway” can be used by all companies. 

 

Analysis of the activities related to the Rapid Alert System

What were the most significant developments in 2018?

The Rapid Alert System for non-food, dangerous products has registered a fairly stable number of alerts over the last few years. In 2018, the number of alerts of consumer products submitted in the system was 2 257, a slight increase compared with last year, when it was 2 201.

A total of 4,050 follow-up measures were recorded. Last year, these amounted to 3,952 (values including all risks and professional products). 

Which EU countries sent the most alerts?

In 2018, all participating countries, except Liechtenstein, notified measures taken against unsafe products. The three countries which submitted the most alerts were:

 

Germany

16 %

(362 alerts)

France

11 %

(249 alerts)

Hungary

8 %

(172 alerts)

 

What does it show when a country sends many notifications – is it that there are more dangerous products on that particular market?

The number of notifications sent by a particular Member State to the Rapid Alert System cannot be directly linked to the level of safety of the products on its market. There are many reasons for the identified differences: the size of the market, the volumes of imports, specific control actions carried out during a particular period by market surveillance authorities, the headquarters of economic operators involved, and so on.

 

What were the main products and risks identified in 2018?

The product categories most often notified were:

 

Toys

31 %

(709 alerts)

Motor vehicles

19 %

(428 alerts)

Clothing, textiles and fashion items

10 %

(236 alerts)

Electrical appliances and equipment

8 %

(188 alerts)

Cosmetics

7 %

(150 alerts)

 

 

This distribution shows the share of product categories for which notifications are submitted is relatively stable over the last years.

The five most frequently notified risk categories were:

 

Chemical

25 %

(637 alerts)

Injuries

25 %

(635 alerts)

Choking

18 %

(442 alerts)

Electric shock

10 %

(263 alerts)

Fire

8 %

(193 alerts)

 

 

Where did the largest amount of unsafe products come from in 2018?

The majority of unsafe products notified in the system were imported. China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) was the country of origin for 53% (1,191) of the alerts, an identical share to the one registered last year.

Unsafe products originating from the countries participating in the system (EU and EEA countries) accounted for 537 alerts (24 %), slightly down from 26 % in 2017. 

Why is the level of alerts concerning products with European origin that high?

Many of the alerts coming from the EU are on motor vehicles. Motor vehicles are increasingly complex products for which more and more voluntary industry recalls are initiated. This has a direct impact on the share of alerts on products with European origin, as the majority of motor vehicles sold on our market are manufactured in Europe (73 % of the alerts concerning motor vehicles indicate these originate from one of the EU countries). 

How does the Commission cooperate with China on product safety issues?

The European Commission engages in regular cooperation with the Chinese authorities on product safety issues. This includes a systematic exchange with the Chinese authorities, on information related to alerts concerning unsafe Chinese products that are detected on the European market. The Chinese authorities investigate the information received and the results and follow-up actions taken in China are reported back. 

What is the European Commission doing to make information about alerts available to the public?

The website with information on the alerts, called “Safety Gate”, is subject to continuous improvement focussing at clearer and more user-friendly consultation. Alerts are available in 25 languages to better reach businesses, citizens and stakeholders. Every week, the European Commission sends a newsletter of weekly alerts on unsafe products. 

What are the results of the survey on the effectiveness of consumer behaviour and product?

Product recalls are one of the most common measures to reduce the risks posed by dangerous products. Nearly half of the measures reported each year through the Safety Gate concern recalling the products from consumers. At the same time, existing evidence suggests that the proportion of products successfully recovered from consumers remains generally low. The European Commission conducted an EU-wide survey inviting consumers to express their views on the effectiveness of recalls.

Some of the survey's main findings:

  •          Six out of ten EU consumers are not aware that reporting a product can allow manufacturers or sellers to contact them directly in case there is a problem with the product.
  •          Consumers are ready to share their personal information provided they know for certain that it will not be used for marketing purposes but only in case of issues with the product.
  •          As much as a third of the respondents also said they consciously continue to use recalled products, suggesting that recall notices may not have much effect on consumers and/or that the risk may not be communicated clearly enough. 

For more information:

Safety Gate

You can compile your own statistics using the Safety Gate statistical tool

Product Safety Award for businesses

MEMO/19/1998

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


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