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SPEECH/08/620












Meglena Kuneva

European Consumer Commissioner



"High level EU-China-US Trilateral Summit on Product Safety"

























Press conference speaking points
Brussels, 17 November 2008

Good morning everyone

It is with great pleasure that I stand here today together with distinguished guests from the United States and China to tell you about the latest developments in our trilateral co-operation on product safety.

I would like to present to you Mrs Nancy Nord, Chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Mr Wei Chuanzhong, Vice Minister of the Chinese Product Safety authority AQSIQ.

Introductory remarks

That we stand here together today signifies an extraordinary level of achievement in co-operation on product safety. The work we are doing together will help improve the health and safety of consumers across three continents. This is something to be proud of.

As the flow of goods increases and supply chains become ever more complex, it is clear that closer co-operation between Europe, China and the US is not just a desirable luxury but a real necessity.

Let me give a concrete example. The "summer of recalls" in 2007 caused great concern for consumers across our three continents. It showed more clearly than ever that delivering effective product safety cannot just be a national or even European concern.

It is a truly global issue.

And it is clear that we must do more. Today's trilateral summit confirms and advances that ambition at the highest political level.

Trilateral

Today the EU, China and US have discussed the specific actions on which we would like our intensified co-operation to focus in the next year,

In particular we have discussed:

  • New measures to improve information exchange with our partners. In particular, new US product safety legislation agreed in August this year, allows for the first time our American partners to provide Europe with warning of product recalls signalled to the American authorities. This will be a great step forwards. We will be able to move forwards with this work as a priority in 2008.
  • Traceability will be one of the priority issues for the next year. The quarterly reporting from China shows clearly that too often when corrective cannot be taken at source it is because the necessary information is missing. This is a critical weakness in the international system
  • Convergence of safety standards. We know that common safety standards make industry compliance easier to achieve. We have agreed today to focus efforts on co-ordinating standards on toys and children's products safety. If we are successful we can look to extend this work to standard setting in other areas.
  • Finally, we have agreed to meet again in 2009 for a second trilateral summit to take stock of progress and to set political priorities for product safety going forward.

Memorandum of Understanding

There is another very important achievement I want to highlight today. Earlier this morning I signed together with vice Minister Wei, a reinforced Memorandum of Understanding on Product Safety.

This revised MoU gives us a very strong basis to step up our co-operation, to raise standards and to effectively monitor results so we can enhance and target our efforts.

International Product Safety Week

I am particularly pleased that this summit can take place at the start of International Product Safety Week in Brussels,

It is a sign of all the progress we have made that we are able to convene in one place so many of the main global actors working in the consumer product safety field for a week of seminars, workshops and training.

Conclusion

Since I took office as EU Consumer Commissioner in 2007, my message to consumers has been very clear - there can be no compromise on safety.

Today I want to underline that there is no room for complacency.

We still see weekly recalls in our Rapid Alert System of consumer goods - furniture, clothes, shoes, toys and electrical goods that can cause serious injury and threaten lives.

There are major safety challenges ahead as global supply chains increase in length, volume and complexity.

Closer co-operation between Europe, the United States and China is an absolute necessity.

I believe that this summit marks a very important step in the right direction.

Thank you for your attention


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