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Toys and cars topped the list of dangerous consumer goods in 2017, according to a new Rapid Alert System report published by the European Commission.

The report shows that in 2017 the Rapid Alert System was increasingly used by national authorities with more than 2,000 alerts on dangerous consumer goods circulated through the system. Products that received the most complaints included toys, for example several models of the popular fidget spinners, cars and motorcycles, and were removed from the market.

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “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. 

 

Which dangerous consumer goods are posing the most risk?

In 2017, ‘toys’ was the most notified product category (29%), followed by ‘motor vehicles’ (20%), and ‘clothing, textiles and fashion items’ (12%).

As far as risks are concerned, in 2017 the risk most often notified was injury (28%), followed by chemical risk (22%).

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%).

European Commission vows to improve the Rapid Alert System

The Commission is planning to unveil its ‘New Deal for Consumers’ in April, which aims at modernising the existing rules and improving the protection for consumers. This will include modernisation of the system so that users will be able to read each alert in all official EU languages.

BEUC & ANEC calls on European Commission to beef up market surveillance

In response to the Rapid Alert System report, BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation, and ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation, has called on the European Commission to beef up market surveillance urgently.

It says that the Commission’s Goods Package on compliance and enforcement published last December did not go far enough because the proposal excludes some product categories from tighter controls, such as childcare products.

Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, commented: “Consumers do not get the same level of protection depending on where they live. The more authorities look for faulty products, the more they find, and unfortunately there is a huge gap from one country to another. Member States must urgently increase the number of checks, and the amounts of the fines, across all categories of consumer products, from cosmetics to fitness watches and kettles.

“Connected products that pose new dangers to children can still legally stay on EU shelves because the legal framework is outdated. Member States do not have the power to remove products, such as Cayla “the spying doll”, from the market. This calls for an urgent overhaul of the rules so they truly protect consumers.”

Stephen Russell, Secretary-General of ANEC, added: “As market surveillance remains poorly resourced, it is of utmost importance for authorities to have a tool at their disposal to set priorities for enforcement activities. We therefore repeat the call, from a coalition of over 40 European associations from across the economic & social spectrum, for the creation of a Pan-European Accident & Injury Data System. Reliable and up-to-date accident and injury data are critical in the setting of priorities; the design of safety into new products; and the development of supporting technical standards”.