Toy safety: Parliament wants stronger EU rules to protect children

(Credit: Unsplash)

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.

Parliament 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 online, do not comply with EU legislation. As a result, many toys sold in the EU still pose a significant threat.

In a report approved by 688 votes to six, with one abstention, MEPs call on the Commission and member states to step up measures 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 specific EU rules on chemicals, Parliament recalls. 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.

A future revision of the TSD should also allow the limit values for dangerous chemical substances to be adapted quickly if needed and avoid a situation whereby different values are set at national level.

Market surveillance and connected toys

Parliament calls on EU member states to coordinate their market surveillance activities and to improve controls to detect unsafe toys more effectively. 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 can expose children to new dangers and pose a risk to their 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. They call on the Commission to propose rules to address these issues.

Parliament also calls on the Commission to assess whether toys’ labels could include information on the durability and reparability of the product.

E-commerce

MEPs reiterate 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.

Quote

Rapporteur Brando Benifei (S&D, IT) said: “The current Directive is a good step forward for the safety of children, yet we think several problems remain. Among them, is the emergence of scientific evidence identifying previously unknown toxic chemical substances and risks, and the high number of dangerous toys circulating on online marketplaces. As a result, we are calling for a revision of the EU rules. We also want the Commission to address the risks linked to digitalisation, in so-called connected toys, where security features for kids against cyber threats are inadequate or almost non-existent. Our children deserve the highest possible level of protection when they play and we need to do our outmost to guarantee this”.

Background

According to the EU Safety Gate (the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products), toys were the most notified product category (27% of all notifications) in 2020. Data released by the Commission on 3 December 2021 showed that last year most of the alerts concerned motor vehicles or related products (27%) and toys (19%).

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