The European Commission on Monday released its 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products, with toys and cars leading the lot.

Several models of the popular fidget spinners, cars, and motorcycles topped the list of dangerous toys identified and removed from the markets.

Since 2003, the pan-European Rapid Alert system ensures that information about dangerous non-food products withdrawn from the market and/or recalled anywhere in Europe is quickly circulated between the Member States and the European Commission. The alert system allows for appropriate follow-up actions that include sales bans, withdrawals, recalls or import rejections by Customs officials to be taken everywhere in the EU.

Thirty-one countries currently participate in the system. The Rapid Alert System functions thanks to daily and continuous close cooperation between the 28 EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The Rapid Alert System was increasingly utilised in 2017 by national authorities with more than 2,000 alerts on dangerous products circulated through the system.

In 2017, ‘toys’ were the most regularly flagged product (29%), followed by ‘motor vehicles (20%), and clothing/textile 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 risky products came from outside the EU, with China topping the list as the chief supplier of dangerous products that violate Europe’s safety regulations. Though  Chinese products were listed as posing the greatest risk, the number of incidents involving Chinese-made products remained stable at 53% (1,155) year-on-year.

The Commission continues to cooperate closely with Chinese authorities to discuss specific cases and implement safety measures, as well as the exchange of good business practices. Dangerous products of European origin accounted for 413 notifications (26%).

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.

Consumers increasingly purchase products online, directly from third countries. The challenge is now to ensure that these products meet the EU’s strict safety standards.

Many of the flagged products listed on the Rapid Alert System are also sold on online platforms or marketplaces. To address the rapidly growing online retail market, the Commission is encouraging further cooperation with its international counterparts and online platforms to make sure that unsafe products do not reach EU consumers.

On March 1, the Commission issued a recommendation that set out a list of operational measures to be taken by online platforms and the Member States to facilitate closer cooperation to crack down on illegal online content, including the sale of hazardous products.

The Commission is calling on online sales platforms to make voluntary commitments that go further than their legal obligations to guarantee product safety. 

The Rapid Alert System is an important tool for the enforcement of EU consumer laws by national consumer authorities. To further improve enforcement, the Commission will unveil its ‘New Deal for Consumers’ in April, which aims at modernising the existing rules and improving the protection of consumers.

The next step of the modernisation of the system will enable users to read each alert in all official EU languages.