The agreement was arranged when a dialogue was instigated by the European Commission that also includes French online shopping and selling platform Rakuten, formerly known as PriceMinister.
If a member state flags an unsafe product being sold online by the above providers they will have to remove it in 2 days, while if a customer notifies the provider they will have 5 days to take action.
Vĕra Jourová EU Commissioner for Justices and Consumers commented in a released statement that: ‘Consumers should be just as safe when they buy online, as when they buy in a shop. I welcome the Product Safety Pledge which will further improve consumer safety. I call also on other online marketplaces to join this initiative.’’
31 European countries are part of the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products. In 2017 the system saw 2,201 alerts sent out and this resulted in 4,000 follow-up actions which in many cases led to the removal of products from the market place.”
In released statistics for the Rapid Alert Systems operation in 2017: “’toys’ was the most notified product category (29%), followed by ‘motor vehicles’ (20%), and ‘clothing, textiles and fashion items’ (12%).”
Vĕra Jourová stated that the: “Rapid Alert System supports authorities to react quickly and remove any products that might cause injuries. Thanks to this system, we are keeping our children safe and preventing fatal accidents on our roads.”
Once a Producer/Distributor alerts the authority in its location, that authority then undertakes a product risk assessment. If upon finding a high risk they enter it into the RAPEX application online, which sends the alert out to all connected members in the RAPEX system.
Dr Corina Ene of the Petroleum & Gas University of Ploieşti noted in an academic paper that: “These links are established through the competent authorities designated by the Commission in each state.”
The Office for Product Safety and Standards is the UK’s designated authority.
She added that: “There is an interdependence between these elements and the key-factor is the European Commission through its role as a “mediator” between producers/distributors and RAPEX contact points in Member States.”
UK Needs New Systems
With the UK expected to leave the European Union and with the potential loss of all access to this type of EU regulatory systems, new systems are being constructed.
The UK Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) sought applications in March 2018 for a team to deliver an alpha and beta phase of a market surveillance product safety data hub.
Stating in the tender release the OPSS said: “The UK needs to collect and manage data on product safety and market surveillance from multiple sources and make that data available to UK regulators, enforcement bodies, businesses and consumers through appropriate channels.”
It also noted that the long term vision for the hub would be to enable product safety communications and data exchange with other international countries, “including the EU.”
The contract was awarded to Softwire Technology Limited at a value of £1,294,00 in May.