The European Commission said today improved co-operation between EU customs has led to more dangerous consumer products removed from the market last year, with China producing nearly 50% of the unsafe products reported.

In 2006 restrictive measures on 924 dangerous products were reported through Europe's Rapid Alert System for non-food consumer products (RAPEX), a 32% increase on 2005.

The Irish authorities notified the EU of 14 dangerous products in 2006, or 2% of the total.

Last year 440 products from China, ranging from toys to cigarette lighters, were notified as being dangerous, over 10 times more than the figure for Germany which ranked second on the list. The  US, Japan and Britain,  all had 20-plus products on the dangerous list last year.

Children's toys topped the list of unsafe consumer items,  followed by electrical appliances, motor vehicles and lighting equipment.

European Commissioner for Consumer affairs, Meglena Kuneva said the increase in the number of measures shows that vigilance across Europe is improving.

The Commission is calling for enhanced participation from all EU Member States, joint efforts between market surveillance and customs authorities, and co-operation with third countries to further increase the effectiveness of the system.

The European Union is doing more than just logging the culprits,  where it deems necessary, it has taken action.

Last month it introduced a ban on the sale of  novelty cigarette lighters and any others considered dangerous to  children.

The EU is also seeking to stop the products at their source,  with a particular emphasis on China, the worst offender.

Given the fact that China has rapidly become one of the biggest exporters of consumer products to Europe, in 2006 the commission signed a memorandum of understanding and a roadmap for safer toys to improve the safety of incoming products.