Securing Consumers safety – new guidelines for notification of dangerous products19/06/05 / cata_european-union-news

Commission Guidelines for the Notification of Dangerous Consumer Products to the Competent Authorities of the Member States by Producers and Distributors in accordance with Article 5(3) of Directive 2001/95/EC (Commission document No. C (2004) 4772/F of 14 December 2004)

The EU Member States had to comply with the revised General Product Safety Directive (Directive 2001/95/EC, hereinafter the “GPSD”) by 15 January 2004, with the aim to strengthen the safety of consumer products introduced on the EU market.

The GPSD mainly requires producers and distributors to place only safe non-food products on the market, however, imposes on them also other obligations including post-marketing monitoring of product risks, provision of information to consumers and competent authorities on findings, taking all necessary measures to prevent risks for consumers even by withdrawing dangerous products from the market.

One of the measures envisaged by the GPSD in connection with the afore-mentioned obligations is the notification duty of producers and distributors towards the competent authorities of the Member States with respect to dangerous products placed on the market. In compliance with the Article 5(3) of the GPSD, the European Commission adopted on 14 December 2004 the new Guidelines for the Notification of Dangerous Consumer Products to the Competent Authorities of the Member States by Producers and Distributors (hereinafter the “New Guidelines”) in order to ensure and facilitate an efficient and consistent application of the notification procedure stipulated in the GPSD.

The New Guidelines specify the scope of notification obligation of producers and distributors with the purpose that only the information relevant for risk management is notified and that any surplus and useless information is eliminated. In this connection, the Annex II to the New Guidelines provides for the methodological framework for facilitating consistent risk estimation and evaluation.

Being addressed to producers and distributors, as well as to competent national authorities of Members States, the New Guidelines clarify the relevant criteria for identification of dangerous products, and define the “isolated circumstances or products”, for which the notification is not relevant.

The New Guidelines also define the content and lay out of the standard form for notification by producers and distributors. The producers and distributors are required to submit their notifications to the market surveillance/enforcement authorities of all Member States where the products have been marketed or otherwise supplied to consumers. Each Member State had to notify the European Commission of the authority designated to receive notifications; the list of competent authorities together with their e-mail addresses is available on the European Commission’s website. The competent authority for the Czech Republic is the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Consumer Protection Department.

The New Guidelines further describe the follow-up action to be taken by the Member States receiving a notification and the information to be provided on such follow-up. This may include requesting additional information from the producer or distributor, or reporting any new developments to the authorities, taking an enforcement action if appropriate, or providing information to the public about product identification, nature of risk and measures taken, as well as sending a RAPEX (Community system for the rapid exchange of information on dangers arising from the use of consumer products) notification by the national authority to the European Commission, which further disseminates the notified information to other authorities or public, if appropriate.

The Guidelines are supposed to be further updated by the European Commission in the light of experience and new developments, in consultations with the special Committee referred to in Article 15 of the GPSD, consisting from the representatives of the Member States.