EU Curbs Dangerous Goods from China

November 26, 2008 Updated: November 26, 2008

Over the last few years, the number of alerts for dangerous consumer products, issued by the European warning system, has increased alarmingly. And China is the main source of these goods. Representatives from EU, USA and China met in Brussels on November 17 to discuss measures for the deteriorating situation.

The bulk of the dangerous goods are toys, but motor vehicles, electrical goods, cosmetics and foodstuffs are also significant concerns. More than fifty percent of the goods originated from China. In September, after the scandal with melamine-contaminated milk, the EU proposed a total ban on all China products containing milk, for infants and young children.

“I am not ready, especially now when we will have economic challenges, to pay less respect for safety,” said Meglena Kuneva, chief of the EU Consumer Safety Commission at a press conference in Brussels on November 17.

The increasing trend can be partly explained by the larger volume of trade and the greater efforts of inspection by the European member states. According to the European Commission, the Chinese authorities had not been effective in stopping the dangerous goods because the responsible companies could be traced.

“Traceability is a key of a safe market,” said Meglena Kuneva.

The authorities in EU, USA and China will co-operate to enforce product safety standards and improve the exchange information so that consumers are protected and offenders can be traced.

When the European product safety legislations came into force in 2004, the number of alerts was 468. Last year, 1605 were issued. During the first nine months this year, the European Rapid Alert System (RAPEX) has already notified 1347 cases.

The US-Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord and the vice-Minister of China’s Quality Supervision, Wei Chuanzhong participated in the trilateral meeting. The meeting is a part of the Product Safety Week hosted by the European Commission from November 17-21.