The European Commission has released its 2017 Annual Report on the Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Products.
Alerts and follow-up actions
In 2017, over 2,200 alerts were submitted to the Rapid Alert System, prompting approximately 4,000 follow-up actions by national authorities, including stop of sales, withdrawal, recall or import bans. This represents a steady growth on 2016, which saw 2,044 alerts and 3,824 follow-up actions.
Toys remained the most notified product, followed by motor vehicles and clothing, textiles and fashion items. Concerns were raised about new products including fidget spinners after checks revealed that button batteries and other small parts could be removed and swallowed.
The majority of products subject to alerts originated outside the EU, with China accounting for over half. For this reason, the Commission is stepping up cooperation with international product safety organisations including the OECD, US Consumer Product Safety Commission and authorities in China, Japan and Canada.
The Commission notes that consumers are increasingly purchasing products on the internet, often directly from third countries via online platforms or marketplaces. It suggests that the challenge is to ensure that these products meet EU standards for safety.
The Commission calls on platforms to make voluntary commitments on operational measures regarding dangerous products. In addition, it has issued Guidance for national authorities to better control products sold online, launched an “E-enforcement Academy” project to harmonize tools and methods used and an information campaign to raise consumer awareness of the risks of buying products online.
Under EU legislation, businesses have a responsibility to place only safe products on the market and to remove dangerous products if necessary to avoid putting consumers at risk. The EU’s Rapid Alert System was established in 2003 to enable the swift exchange of information between the Commission and 31 participating European countries about products posing (primarily) health and safety risks to consumers. Information from this system provides insight into the activities of regulatory authorities around the EU, as well as information about trends in product-related risks.