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Protecting consumers: toys and cars top the list of dangerous products detected

The European Commission has released in March its 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System (RAS) for dangerous products. The report evidently points out that in 2017, the RAS was increasingly used by national authorities, those in the Baltics, too, with more than 2,000 alerts on dangerous products circulated through the system. 

The most red-flagged type of product was toys with 29 %, closely followed by motor vehicles at 20%. The most notified risks are injuries with 28 % and chemical with 22 %, while injuries are also the category with the most follow-up actions.

The majority of dangerous products notified in the system came from outside the EU. China is the number one country of origin, but the number of alerts remains stable at 53 % (1,155) in 2017, same as the year before. The Commission continues to cooperate closely with Chinese authorities, working together to discuss specific cases and implement actions, such as exchange of good practices. Dangerous products of European origin accounted for 413 notifications (26 %).

The product alerts and the breakdown of the notifications according to EU member states can be found on  www.ec.europa.eu/consumers/rapid-alert-system

Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said in the conference: “European consumer rules guarantee that only safe products are sold in the EU. If this is not the case, the Rapid Alert System supports authorities to react quickly and remove any products that might cause injuries. Thanks to this system, we are keeping our children safe and preventing fatal accidents on our roads. This is a good example of how to efficiently enforce EU consumer rules. Unfortunately, in many other areas we need to improve enforcement and make sure consumers can benefit from their rights. This is what our upcoming ‘New Deal for Consumers’ is all about.” 

The 2,201 alerts sent through the Rapid Alert System prompted nearly 4,000 follow-up actions, such as the withdrawal of products from the market. This shows that all national authorities closely monitored the alerts in the system and took all necessary measures to help make the market safer for consumers. 

The Member States are required to take follow-up action following the alerts, which is set out in the website. Follow-up in this instance refers to feedback received from the countries as to how they treated the alert, with the most common follow-up action being that of finding the product. There is no formal coordination mechanism in the case where national authorities assess a threat differently. Instead the Commission is meant to act as a mediator. Divergent approaches in product safety, such as a product being identified as dangerous in a Member State but not in another, may be better addressed by a formalised system to resolve such disputes.

It was noted that consumers increasingly purchase products online directly from third countries. The challenge is now to ensure that these products meet EU standards for safety.

Many of the dangerous products notified in the Rapid Alert System are also sold on online platforms or marketplaces. To address this phenomenon, the Commission is encouraging cooperation with its international counterparts and online platforms to make sure that unsafe products do not reach EU consumers. In particular, the Commission is calling on platforms to take voluntary commitments that go further than their legal obligations in the field of product safety. 

Since 2003, the Rapid Alert system ensures that information about dangerous non-food products withdrawn from the market and/or recalled anywhere in Europe is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission. Thirty-one countries (EU together with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) currently participate in the system. 

Every week, around 50 alerts are registered and published on the web, www.ec.europa.eu/consumers/rapid-alert-system Anyone can consult the notifications in the system. Consumers and businesses can now also create and personalise their own subscriptions to alerts according to their needs and preferences and share alerts through social media. 

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