Consumer product safety and RAPEX
As consumers are a particularly vulnerable group, a high level of consumer protection must be secured by taking measures to ensure that only safe products are placed on the market. Where a dangerous product is present on the market, the EU Member State concerned informs the other EU Member States. It does so via the information system for the rapid exchange of information between the EU Member States and the Commission on measures and action taken on products (RAPEX).
General product safety
In order to ensure a high level of consumer protection, horizontal legislation is applied not only to a specific area, but to a variety of different areas. This satisfies general product safety requirements, which contain provisions on the obligations of manufacturers and distributors regarding product safety. There is also a system available for the rapid exchange of information on measures at EU level. The common legal framework and compliance with the requirements provide the economy with free movement of goods, enable it to protect consumers, give it a competitive advantage and eliminate unfair competition.
A product is considered to comply with the requirements of the General Product Safety Directive when it meets EU product safety rules or requirements under European or national legislation. In the absence of EU regulations or standards, the conformity of a product is determined in accordance with other reference documents; these can include domestic standards, Commission recommendations and codes of conduct.
To speed up and facilitate the exchange of information, the Commission has also developed the option of providing notice of dangerous products electronically.
RAPEX information system for the rapid exchange of information between the EU Member States and the Commission on measures and action taken on products
The rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products (RAPEX) is an EU information system for the rapid exchange of information between the EU Member States and the Commission on measures and action taken on products posing a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers.
The system enables consumers to check which dangerous products have been detected on the Community market.
In the case of measures taken for safety reasons, every surveillance authority within the Community is required to use the information system to provide the Commission with information on the product and the measures taken. In such cases, inspectors use the information system to enter information on the product, the measures taken to prevent hazards, the grounds for identifying a hazard and other information about the product.
On the basis of this notification to RAPEX, the Commission informs all surveillance authorities in the EU of the findings, the hazards posed by the product and the measures taken. Such measures consist mainly of withdrawal and recall, i.e. the seller withdraws the product from sale and requests that consumers return the product.
Slovenia is part of this information system and, to this end, has set up a dual-level system consisting of the RAPEX National Contact Point, which sends to and receives from the Commission all the information exchanged through the system, and a national network involving all authorities responsible for product safety in the country.
In Slovenia, the contact point is the Market Inspectorate, while the national network comprises mainly the Financial Administration (for customs), the Infrastructure Inspectorate, the Market Inspectorate, the Chemicals Office, the Internal Affairs Inspectorate and the Health Inspectorate.
Guidelines for the management of the EU Rapid Exchange of Information System
The objectives of the guidelines are:
- Streamline the communication mechanism processes;
- Determine the notification criteria;
- Define the content of notifications and follow-up notifications, in particular by indicating the data required and the forms to be used;
- Determine the follow-up action to be taken by EU Member States upon receipt of a notification, and the type of information to be provided;
- Identify the way in which notifications and follow-up notifications are handled by the Commission;
- Set deadlines for various types of measures taken within the context of notification mechanisms;
- Establish the necessary practical and technical arrangements at the level of the Commission and the EU Member States for the effective application of the notification mechanisms; and
- Establish the risk assessment method and, in particular, the criteria for identifying serious risks.