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SPEECH/08/203












Meglena Kuneva

European Consumer Commissioner




Presentation of RAPEX Annual Report 2007 (Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Consumer Goods)






















Press conference speaking points
Brussels, April 17th 2008

1. 2007 WAS A VERY SIGNIFICANT YEAR FOR CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY

  • So I am particularly pleased to be able to "report back" to you on how the RAPEX System (the Rapid Alert System for Dangerous consumer goods) run by my department coped with the challenges it faced.
  • Remember, less than twelve months ago, millions of goods were being pulled off shelves all over the world.
  • We had a "summer of recalls" marked by massive recalls of lead-heavy and loose-magnets toys, tainted toothpaste and poisonous pet food.
  • It had serious effects both on consumer confidence and on trade.
  • In 2007, the RAPEX system and the whole consumer product safety system in Europe was put to the test.

2. I AM VERY PLEASED TO REPORT TO YOU THAT RAPEX PASSED WITH "FLYING COLOURS"

There are three key findings in the RAPEX Report for 2007:

  • 1.Overall, the number of dangerous goods taken off the market went up by 53%.
  • 2. The biggest category once again was toys.
  • 3. The biggest source of dangerous goods was China

WHAT IS BEHIND THESE STATISTICS? AND WHAT LESSONS SHOULD WE DRAW?

  • 1. The first conclusion is that in a difficult year, the RAPEX system moved up a gear.

A 53% increase in notifications means that that fewer dangerous consumer goods – particularly toys - are "slipping through the net". The system is working better. Member states are more and more active and I am pleased to say so is the industry, both in Europe, and in those countries that supply us such as China. This is very good news.

The second is that toys were the number one priority for market surveillance checks in Europe in 2007 - particularly last year, after the summer of recalls. We asked Member States in the Autumn 2007 to significantly step up checks on toys – they "dug deep" and the results are very impressive.

Finally, it is clear that while we have made real progress with China – there is a lot more to be done.

But I believe that the Chinese government has realized the importance of product safety and of protecting the 'made in China' brand. I believe our current cooperation with China has yielded encouraging results. I believe that RAPEX-China system has been instrumental in lying foundation of a 'market-surveillance' culture in China.

  • 2. The other main conclusion from the report is that it is clear that a significant number of sub-prime, non compliant, unsafe consumer goods still reach Europe.

The 2007 RAPEX report this year shows that we all have become better at spotting them.

But that is not enough.

The challenge now is to go beyond that.

We must prevent them from entering Europe in the first place.

That is why we decided to carry out a major stocktaking review. With that, we checked every step of the supply chain from design to the shelves.

A huge body of work is being done within the Commission to implement the recommendations of that review.

I will highlight just a few developments in my own department you for 2008

  • Our industry audit to assess how the toy sector manages its global supply chains is nearly completed. We are consulting with industry on final recommendations. We would expect to sign a"safety pact" with industry leaders at the end of May.
  • Co-operation with international partners is being stepped up significantly.
  • I will visit China again in June for an update on progress.
  • We are in the process of upgrading the memorandum of understanding with China and hope to sign an agreement later this year.
  • My department will participate in a joint outreach programme to China with the US authorities in September 2008.
  • And I will host the first tri-lateral summit on product safety in Brussels with China and the US in November.

TO CONCLUDE: I SAID THERE WOULD BE NO COMPROMISE ON SAFETY.

I take that commitment very seriously. We have made progress – as you can see from the report published today.

But there is no room for complacency. There is a lot more work to be done.

Now I am very happy to take your questions.

Thank you.


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