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Monday March 19, 2018

EC Points to Three Challenges for Product Safety Oversight

The European Commission March 12 highlighted three product safety challenges. This came in its report on 2017 RAPEX activity (see related story in this issue). The issues – new products (fidget spinners), online retailing, and global cooperation – echo the concerns of other regulators like CPSC (PSL, 2/26/18 and 3/12/18).


DG Justice and Consumers explained (

  • New Products: As fidget spinners gained popularity, concern arose about those with button batteries, especially if poorly secured. Small-parts worry became an issue too, including some incidents. The EC wrote, "The Rapid Alert [RAPEX] system has helped to put in place a means for the quick exchange of information about risks related to the product, the manufacturers concerned, distribution chains, etc. Consequently, dangerous fidget spinners have been tracked down, stopped at borders and ports, or destroyed." (Relatedly, the EC is seeking members for an expert group on new technology – see story in this issue).

  • Online Sales: The worry is greater consumer access to items that do not meet EU requirements. Among efforts are an "E-enforcement Academy" ( to train national surveillance authorities and a guidance on such oversight (PSL, 8/14/17). As well, noted the report, the EC works with platform providers, and the goal is expanded action. It observed, "While in 2017 some platforms provided specific single contact points for national authorities to notify unsafe products, the European Commission is now in conversations with them so they take further voluntary commitments to improve product safety going beyond their legal obligations."

  • Global Cooperation: The report highlighted ongoing work with other jurisdictions' product safety regulators. Five got special mention: regular discussions with CPSC about emerging risks; trilateral meetings with CPSC and Chinese regulators; the long-established program involving information exchange with China about RAPEX alerts on products originating there; participation in the online Global Recall Portal sponsored by OECD; and work with OECD on button battery and laundry pod campaigns.