In November the European Commission (the Commission) hosted the 2008 International Product Safety Week in Brussels. The week started with the first high-level trilateral summit on product safety between the European consumer commissioner, Meglena Kuneva; the acting chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord; and the Chinese vice-minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), Wei Chuanzhong. The summit follows a series of initiatives over the past year to enhance EU-China-US co-operation on product safety and a further high-level trilateral summit is planned for 2009.
At the summit the parties agreed to give priority to a number of specific actions within the existing cooperation framework. These include:
- exploring the possibility of more harmonised product traceability systems;
- supporting efforts to further harmonise toy safety standards;
- closer collaboration in the area of children’s product safety;
- increased stakeholder participation; and
- exploring the potential for enhanced mutual understanding among administration staff in the three administrations.
Ms Kuneva and Mr Chuanzhong also signed a renewed and extended memorandum of understanding (MoU) on product and food safety during the summit. The upgraded MoU provides for the possibility of joint actions between the EU and China carrying out simultaneous, co-ordinated checks on specific market sectors to ensure that product safety requirements are being met. It also fleshes out the RAPEX-China system, by which AQSIQ is provided access to rapid alert system for non-food consumer products (RAPEX) notifications regarding dangerous Chinese products found in the EU. In future, for example, AQSIQ will provide quarterly reports detailing the steps it has taken to follow up on such notifications. The MoU also seeks to develop EU-China co-operation on food safety.