Potentially harmful counterfeit products from China have triggered official EU moves to head off a possible health disaster or trade disruption. Even non-counterfeit goods are failing to meet European safety standards.
Under the EU’s RAPEX rapid alert system for non-food items entering the 27-member bloc, almost half of all products noted as unsafe in 2006 came from China. Consumer protection commissioner Maglena Kuneva is due in Beijing next week, where she plans to give the authorities a piece of her mind.
Kuneva said: “We are more and more careful about the implementation and the enforcement. This is my personal care also in Europe. So this is not a kind of a double standard for Chinese, but I’d like to see that they are as serious as we are in respecting the rules and making controls on the spot and at the source.”
There is a growing consensus that wrongdoers must not go unpunished. Jim Murray, the head of the European consumers bureau, wishes Kuneva luck.
“It will be very difficult for a commissioner in a visit to China, or anywhere else, to stop all the problems at source. It’s very important that not only the exporters, in China in this case, and the people who import those products know that if there’s something wrong with them, they will be found out.”
The head of RAPEX, however, says Chinese rogue products are not flooding Europe. “The figures have been stable over the past few years,” and the most recent show a slight drop. Last year, China exported legitimate products with a value of 191 billion euros into the EU. The Commissioner will convey two key messages: Europe will not compromise on its values, and trust in the market is essential.