What is RAPEX
Keeping track of data relating to all products available on the European Market can be very difficult to say the least, and yet, from a compliance and regulatory standpoint, it’s a very, very important part of ensuring all products circulating throughout Europe are safe for use. For bodies on all parts of the supply chain (from manufacturers to distributors, retailers to consumers, and even the European Commission itself), having up-to-date access to information regarding products’ compliance status is paramount. In an effort to facilitate this efficient movement of information, the RAPEX system was created.
The RAPEX System, launched on January 15th 2005, is a Europe-wide alert system created under European General Products Safety Directive 2001/95/EC allowing free exchange of compliance status and infringement information on a wide variety of products sold within the EU (excluding medical devices, food, and pharmaceutical products). It is an extremely valuable tool in battling non-compliance throughout Europe (and the wider world on occasion) and allows closer cooperation between all involved parties. It also helps to promote joint testing and surveillance projects throughout various fields of expertise resulting in more assurance in the safety of products on the European market.
RAPEX, also known as the Rapid Exchange of Information System, operates as a rapid alert system for unsafe consumer products such as (among others): clothing, shoes, cosmetics, jewellery, toys, and electrical appliances. The database itself allows the user access to comprehensive information on a product’s exact safety status, which may relate to product infringements including technical faults, hazardous ingredients, electric shock or ignition hazard, or other risks to human well-being.
One of the most useful aspects of the RAPEX system is that it allows instantaneous exchange of information on products within Europe. This is especially relevant in instances when a product may need to be recalled or repatriated (be it by national authorities or manufacturers/distributors) but is available in a large number of countries resulting in a large amount of time being spent on product recovery. With instant notification, the information is available to all countries who can then take appropriate action immediately.
The Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers at the European Commission publishes an updated list of new RAPEX alerts regularly each week, keeping each of the 31 member states up to date on what should and should not be sold within European bounds.
The RAPEX system is also available to the general public (you can find it here). This has allowed for far greater vigilance in the European market and serves as a means for each member of the supply chain, right down to the individual retailer and consumer, to make informed decisions on products and where they are sold.