Toys, clothes and gadgets from China are being flagged in increasing numbers by the EU’s rapid alert system for dangerous goods (RAPEX). Ignorance of the rules is cited as a cause.
China, including Hong Kong, was indicated as a country of origin for 58 percent (1,126 notifications) of products reported to the EU watchdog RAPEX in 2012. But officials in Brussels were keen to stress that the statistic reflected China’s dominant position as an exporter and did not necessarily mean that the country’s products had become less safe.
“The high number is due to the significant market penetration of Chinese-manufactured consumer products in European markets,” EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Tonio Borg said.
Turkey came next on the list, with 5 percent of notifications in 2012.
RAPEX ensures that information about dangerous products is quickly circulated between member states and the European Commission, so that appropriate action can be taken everywhere in the EU. Products identified by RAPEX can be banned, withdrawn from the market or rejected by customs authorities.
Octavian Vasile, a policy officer at RAPEX, said Chinese companies were often not aware of the rules. “We are trying to work on that in organizing workshops especially meant for the Chinese industry, especially on toys because this is quite a sensitive category of products,” Vasile said.
All the EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are members of RAPEX. Five member states accounted for more than half of all RAPEX notifications in 2012: Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, Germany and the UK.
In 2012, a total of 2.278 notifications on dangerous products posing risks to the health and safety of consumers were submitted through the RAPEX system by member states – a rise of 26 percent over the previous year. Of the 2,278 notifications, 1,938 concerned products that posed a serious risk to consumers, according to the EC.