Report shows fewer dangerous products reaching EU market

Brussels, 08 May 2012 – EU consumers want to be sure that the products – whether produced in the EU or imported from third-countries – are safe. The good news is that thanks to the increasing effectiveness of the EU’s rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products (“RAPEX”) dangerous products are detected earlier and more effectively and are more promptly removed from the EU market. This process involves a chain of actions including upstream efforts to design out risks at source, better risk assessment and close co-operation between EU authorities, notably customs, to identify risks at the points of entry.
John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, said:

“The fact that fewer dangerous items enter the EU market is good news for consumers. But we must remain committed so that we can tackle the challenges of the global supply chain and address any new product safety issues as they emerge. That is why building the system of ‘Seamless Surveillance’ by strengthening co-operation here in the EU and enhancing co-operation with international partners remains a key priority”.

RAPEX : a rapid alert system to keep EU consumers safe

RAPEX has matured significantly since 2004 (when the General Product Safety Directive was transposed into national law). Member States have spent up to 100 million € and employed up to 6000 inspectors to work on product safety enforcement. The 2011 report highlights the achievements:

  • earlier detection
  • better market surveillance and product safety enforcement by national authorities, including through specific projects;
  • better risk assessment by authorities;
  • more focus on quality and usefulness of notifications;
  • growing co-operation with customs authorities;
  • continued network-building and training coordinated by the European Commission.

RAPEX 2011 Report: what about the countries of origin:

Although China remains – with more than half of the RAPEX notifications – the number one country for the number of notifications on products, there has been a decrease from 58% in 2010 to 54% in 2011.

19% (293 notifications) were of European origin. 15% were from other countries. 8% were of unknown origin (compared to 23% in 2004 – decreasing steadily with better identification).

Dangerous products of European origin accounted for 293 notifications (19%), including 44 products of French origin (3%), 43 products of German origin (3%) and 32 products of Italian origin (2%).

Notifying countries – all Member States involved:

All Member States participated in the RAPEX system by detecting and notifying new dangerous products and ensuring appropriate follow-up actions. The most active countries were Spain (189 notifications), Bulgaria (162 notifications), Hungary (155 notifications), Germany (130 notifications), and the United Kingdom (105 notifications). Notifications sent by these countries represent 47% of all notifications on products posing a serious risk sent via the system.

Clothing and textiles, toys and motor vehicles are on the top of the list.

Clothing and textiles were the most frequently notified products (423 notifications concerned suffocation and irritation risk), followed by toys (324 notifications mainly for choking risk), motor vehicles (171 notifications for risk of injury), electrical appliances (153 notifications for risk of electric shock) and cosmetics (104 notifications for chemical risk), which together account for 74% of all notifications on products posing a serious risk in 2011.

What next:

Work continues to:

  • Build the system of ‘Seamless Surveillance’;
  • Enhance the co-operation with third countries, in particular, bilaterally with China and trilaterally with the US and China (the next trilateral meeting is scheduled for June 2012), and make progress on the co-operation with the US, Canada and Australia on an important work on pooling recall information under the auspices of OECD;
  • Finalise proposals for a comprehensive legislative package on product safety and market surveillance;
  • Promote greater awareness among businesses of their obligations.

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Source: European Commission