The number of dangerous consumer products withdrawn from the EU market rose by 16% in 2008 compared to in 2007, the Commission’s annual report on the Community rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products (“RAPEX”) reveals today. This rise from 1 605 notifications in 2007 to 1 866 last year shows that the capacity of the RAPEX system has substantially increased again in 2008, following a substantial investment of resources and training by the European Commission and Member States. European businesses in the consumer product safety area are also taking their responsibilities more seriously and recall their unsafe products from the market more readily. Toys with childcare articles (such as bicycles, baby walkers, cots and soothers), electrical products and motor vehicles were the most frequently notified products in 2008. The number of notifications on products of Chinese origin sent through RAPEX increased (from 52% in 2007 to 59% in 2008). This must be seen as a consequence of the focus of market surveillance authorities on product categories known to be of higher risk.
Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said:
“This report sends a very clear message that there is no room for complacency when it comes to safety. The biggest challenge for 2009 is to make sure that product safety is not set aside during this period of economic crisis, that business continues to respect their duties toward consumers and that Member States allocate sufficient resources to enforcement. Safety is not a luxury. This report sets out clearly the significant challenges we face and sends a clear signal that there is no place for cost cutting or cutting corners when it comes to safety. On the contrary, in times of economic crisis when price becomes a very prominent factor in consumer spending, we need to step up our efforts and keep our vigilance especially high.”
Number of notified dangerous products still growing
The total number of notifications distributed through the RAPEX system has risen gradually since 2004 (when the General Product Safety Directive, was transposed into the national laws by Member States). In this fifth year, the number of notifications has quadrupled from 468 (in 2004) to 1866 (in 2008). In 2008, the number of notifications rose by 16% compared to 2007. The growth in RAPEX notifications, and the increased capacity of the system, is a result of more effective product safety enforcement by national authorities, greater investment of resources greater awareness amongst businesses of their obligations, enhanced cooperation with third countries, and network-building actions and training across MS coordinated by the European Commission.
All countries contribute to RAPEX
All EU countries participated in the RAPEX system by detecting and notifying new dangerous products and ensuring appropriate follow-up actions to the information received. Twelve countries further increased their activities in the system and notified more dangerous products than in 2007. The countries making most notifications were Germany (205 notifications), Spain (163 notifications), Slovakia (140 notifications), Greece (132 notifications) and Hungary (129 notifications). Notifications sent by these countries represent 50% of all notifications on products posing a serious risk sent via the system.
Toys, electrical appliances and motor vehicles top the list
Toys (498 notifications), electrical appliances (169 notifications) and motor vehicles (160 notifications) alone accounted for 53% of all notifications on products posing a serious risk in 2008. These results are in line with the RAPEX results from 2007. Textile products including clothing (with 140 notifications) became in 2008 the fourth most frequently notified – via RAPEX – category of product.
Increase in the number of notifications on products of the Chinese origin
In total, 909 notifications on products posing a serious risk sent through the RAPEX system in 2008 concerned products manufactured in China. The number of products of Chinese origin notified via RAPEX increased in 2008 to 59% from 52% in 2007. The growing tendency should be seen in the context of a number of factors, such as: increasing imports of goods to the EU from China, focus of enforcement actions taken at the national level on products of Chinese origin, more effective cooperation between the EU and China.
The report shows that Chinese authorities increasingly adopt restrictive measures on their market, on the basis of the RAPEX information provided through the “RAPEX-CHINA” application (established in September 2006). Corrective measures taken by the Chinese authorities are communicated to the Commission on the basis of a system of quarterly reporting introduced in 2007. Since the establishment of the application, AQSIQ has investigated 669 RAPEX notifications. In 352 cases (53%) investigations resulted in preventive or restrictive measures (e.g. export ban/stop, strengthen supervision over the Chinese manufacturer/exporter) being adopted either by AQSIQ or voluntarily by the Chinese manufacturer/exporter.
For more information, see: MEMO/09/167