On June 25, 2018, four major online retailers, Alibaba (for AliExpress), Amazon, eBay, Rakuten-France, and the European Commission signed a Product Safety Pledge to remove dangerous products in which they committed to the following for the benefit of European consumer safety:
- “React within two working days to authorities’ notices made to the companies’ contact points to remove listings offering unsafe products. Companies should follow up and inform the authorities on the action taken.
- Provide a clear way for customers to notify dangerous product listings. Such notices are treated expeditiously and appropriate response is given within five working days.
- Consult information on recalled/dangerous products available on the EU Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products and also from other sources, such as from enforcement authorities and take appropriate action with respect to the products concerned, when they can be identified.
- Provide specific single contact points for EU Member State authorities for the notifications on dangerous products and for the facilitation of communication on product safety issues.
- Take measures aimed at preventing the reappearance of dangerous product listings already removed.
- Provide information/training to sellers on compliance with EU product safety legislation, require sellers to comply with the law, and provide sellers with the link to the list of EU product safety legislation.”
See the full European Commission press release here.
The Product Safety Pledge sets a minimum bar on how eCommerce companies will do business going forward in the EU. Everyone will be watching to see if this Product Safety Pledge affects the number of European recalls or improves the safety of products in commerce more generally.
On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Department of Customs of the People’s Republic of China, and the European Commission held the 6th United States-China-European Union Product Safety Summit (Summit). A variety of stakeholders participated in three different panels at the Summit which were “designed to enhance trilateral cooperation among the three product safety regulators.” The Summit was hosted by the CPSC at their headquarters in Bethesda.
CPSC’s Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle, China’s Vice Minister Zhang Jiwen, and EU’s Deputy Director General (Justice) Francisco Fonseca Morillo opened the Summit and a lengthy Joint Statement was also read at into the record detailing all of the items on which the three regulators are committed to working together as they face new and emerging challenges in the 21st century marketplace. The Joint Statement focused on the three regulators’ focus on global product safety, as well as their commitment to work with all stakeholders, including eCommerce platforms, consumers, and manufacturers, to create a global “culture of safety.”
There were three panels at the Summit: (1) Consumer Safety in the Digital Age; (2) Emerging Hazards; and (3) Stakeholder Perspectives. The panels included a diverse set of speakers from different backgrounds providing interesting perspectives on the key issues.
Panel #1 – Consumer Safety in the Digital Age – was moderated by CPSC’s Director of the Office of International Programs, Rich O’Brien. The panel brought together representatives from Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and XBN for a substantive briefing and discussion about their business models and protocols and their work with various government regulators to ensure the distribution of safe consumer products.
Panel #2 focused on Emerging Hazards and was moderated by Director General Sun from China’s General Administration of Customs. Panelists from the China Academy of Inspection and Quarantine, Consumers International, and UL discussed the challenges around ensuring safety when new products leverage emerging technologies, such as to lithium ion batteries and IoT.
Finally, Panel #3 brought various stakeholder perspectives together for a robust discussion on current real world challenges and how regulatory cooperation and industry engagement can advance product safety goals globally. The panel was moderated by Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit, Product Safety, and Rapid Alert System, at DG Justice and Consumers, and representatives from Zhejiang Qunying Vehicle Co. Ltd, Toy Industries of Europe, and Kids in Danger presented their perspectives.
It is clear that the CPSC is committed to working with all stakeholders and global regulators to face the new challenges in today’s modern marketplace. At the U.S.-China-EU Summit, CPSC representatives from Acting Chairwoman Buerkle to the Small Business Ombudsman stressed that they want to engage with all of their constituencies. CPSC noted that it would post the presentations from the Summit on its webpage in the coming days and is open to answering follow-up questions from Summit participants that are submitted through webpage. Interested stakeholders should seize this opportunity to learn from these past two international summits and engage with the CPSC. Acting Chairwoman Buerkle is clearly looking for partners to navigate today’s technologically advanced and global marketplace.