Toy safety: MEPs want to step up EU rules to protect children

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


MEPs want to strengthen current rules and market surveillance to ensure that all toys sold on the EU market, including from non-EU countries and online, are safe.

In a report unanimously approved on Thursday with 44 votes in favour, Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee stresses that, while the Toy Safety Directive (TSD) provides children with a high level of safety, some manufacturers from non-EU countries selling their products on the single market, especially through online marketplaces, do not comply with EU legislation. As a result, many toys sold in the EU still pose a significant threat.

MEPs call on the Commission to step up EU rules on the manufacture and sale of toys in the EU, to ensure that all toys placed on the EU market comply with the TSD, regardless of where they are manufactured.

Chemicals

Toys that are placed on the EU market must comply with the TSD and with specific EU laws on chemicals, MEPs recall. The Commission should ensure that endocrine disruptors are banned in toys as soon as they are identified. In addition, the Commission must decide whether the current distinction between toys intended for children under 36 months and those intended for older children needs to be abolished.

In view of a future revision of the TSD, the Commission should also evaluate whether the limit value for chemicals, such as nitrosamines and nitrosatable, should be set as the strictest value in force at national level, and introduce a mechanism allowing limit values for dangerous substances to be changed quickly, MEPs say.

Market surveillance and connected toys

MEPs call on EU member states to coordinate their market surveillance activities to detect unsafe toys more effectively and to equip their competent authorities with adequate human, financial and technical resources to improve controls. The use of new technologies, such as e-labelling and artificial intelligence, should also be explored by the Commission to this end.

Stressing that connected toys create new vulnerabilities and pose a risk to children’s safety, privacy and mental health, MEPs encourage producers to integrate safety and security mechanisms into the design of their toys, for instance, against cyber threats, and ask the Commission to address these issues in EU legislation.

E-commerce

MEPs say that online marketplaces “should be obliged to take more responsibility in ensuring the safety and compliance of toys sold on their platforms”, e.g. by removing unsafe toys and preventing their reappearance.

Labelling

The committee calls on the Commission to assess whether labelling provisions for allergenic fragrances and dangerous chemicals should be included, as well as provisions on the durability and reparability of toys, in the future revision of the TSD.

Quote

Rapporteur Brando Benifei (S&D, IT) said: Our children deserve to benefit from highest level of protection when they play. The Toy Safety Directive has played a big role in making this possible, but inconsistencies, emerging challenges and recent scientific discoveries mean it needs a revision. We put forward proposals on what this should look like: a regulation, with enough flexibility to allow for timely adaptations in response to new and dangerous chemical substances. It should also improve on enforcement mechanisms that are currently insufficient, which have resulted in the proliferation of the online sale of unsafe toys. We want more action on so-called connected toys in defence of the security and privacy of children, a major challenge in the upcoming years”.

Background

According to the EU Safety Gate annual report, in 2020 toys were the most notified product category (27% of total notifications). Fresh data from 2021 released by the Commission on 3 December show that this year so far most of the alerts concern motor vehicles or related products (27%) and toys (19%).

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