European Consumer Protection

How rapid alert systems protect consumers

Every year a variety of products are being manufactured, processed or designed in a way that they endanger health. However, there are requirements and specifications designed to protect the consumer. If these requirements are not met, the product should disappear quickly and completely from the market. To make this happen across Europe, the European rapid alert system Rapex was established in 2003.

Rapex (Rapid Exchange of Information System) is an alert system that provides information from EU member states about dangerous or potentially dangerous goods such as clothes, jewelry, toys, cosmetics and other personal care products. Food, pharmaceutical products and medicines are not covered by the rapid alert system.

The EU General Product Safety Directive, introduced in 2001, has made the Rapex network a key component of European consumer protection. The system ensures a fast EU-wide exchange of information on measures such as return and recall actions. There is no distinction between voluntary measures and measures taken by authorities. In order to monitor the measures, delivery lists are being sent Europe-wide to the local and relevant authorities.

Every Friday, the EU commission publishes a weekly report of dangerous products that have been identified by the national authorities. These so-called Rapex messages contain information about the product, its inherent danger, and the measures taken in that country. Consumers can also report products that they consider dangerous or unsafe. They can use the ICSMS system which collects the messages and forwards them to appropriate authorities.

Rapix is being actively adopted by the European authorities. In 2017, 2201 products reported via the rapid alert system were removed from the market. However, an increasing proportion of dangerous products reported in the system are being distributed via the internet. Therefore, the EU commission is now focusing on a closer relationship with online platforms to remove potentially unsafe products from websites that sell to the EU.

Further information: Rapex: https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/?event=main.listNotifications&lng=en