RAPEX Early Warning System: Nine of Ten Hazardous Chemicals Come from Outside the EU

The European Chemical Industry Council (Conseil Européen des Fédérations de l’Industrie Chimique: CEFIC) analyzed last year’s notification from the Rapid Exchange of Information (RAPEX) system. The Council published the most-important results in a press release in February 2020. According to the document, 92% of chemicals that do not conform to the requirements of REACH and that were found in consumer products come from outside the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). When compared with the numbers from 2018, the amount of violations has increased, which CEFIC blames on a stricter RoHS Directive. Overall, the number of cases registered rose by 24%. The most-common complaint, every fourth case, involved phthalates found in children’s toys.

Sylvie Lemoine, executive director of product stewardship, sees an urgent need for EU action because of the violations. She feels that imports must be inspected more strictly and closely in terms of conformity with REACH. The national implementation agencies, such as trade authorities, must be provided with the tools they need.

The EU has already reacted with some initial measures and tightened import regulations. For example, higher customs requirements for articles containing SVHCs (products containing chemicals on the REACH Authorization List [Annex XIV]) have been in effect since October 1, 2019.

The RAPEX rapid warning system was set up in 2003 for consumer protection and enables a quick exchange of information across the EU in the event of a product recall. It helps agencies in individual countries react quickly and introduce follow-up measures.

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