The European Commission today published a review of the Toy Safety Directive. Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) sees the revision as a big opportunity but also a challenge to ensure that toys remain safe while still being fun for children and affordable for their families.
The current EU Toy Safety Directive (TSD), a safety bible for reputable toymakers, has been instrumental in guaranteeing a diverse range of safe toys for kids throughout Europe. Toys from toymakers who comply with the current Directive are absolutely safe today. It is good to see the strengthening of the free movement of toys within the Single Market by transforming the Directive into a Regulation.
But as the proposal makes its way through its legislative journey, there are several improvements that should be made so that it targets genuine safety risks. We are not convinced the proposal has really hit the nail on the head here. The current text misses the opportunity to tackle the tsunami of unsafe products that non-EU traders sell on online platforms. Neither the Digital Services Act nor the General Product Safety Regulation has provided a solution here. This can only be meaningfully resolved by giving online platforms an importer responsibility when no-one else in the EU is responsible for the safety of the toy.
The new Toy Safety Regulation must not end up banning safe toys or making it too cumbersome or expensive to put them on the market. The new chemical requirements may do just that. In this case, the new rules will be a great gift to those traders who have no intention of complying with it and will continue to sell unsafe toys. This is why the work needs to focus on real science-based safety risks.
TIE also cautions against imposing restrictions solely on toys. “Toys are already stricter regulated in terms of the substances they contain than other products that children are more regularly in touch with” says Catherine Van Reeth, Director-General of TIE. “If toy materials need to comply with much stricter criteria than those other everyday products, our industry – which is 99% SMEs – will struggle to find suppliers ready to provide us with such specific, niche materials at a reasonable price.”
Any new rules put forward in the revised TSR can only be effective if they are enforceable. This will require more than a Digital Product Passport. If toys can be copied, so can product passports. Real enforceability requires an increase in resources for market surveillance and other agencies that help to implement the rules. If not, rogue traders will continue to ignore the rules, as they do today, and because they have lower compliance costs, they can sell at a cheaper price. Consumers then unknowingly buy dangerous toys.
TIE will engage with policy makers throughout the legislative process to ensure that the new rules ensure children’s safety while sustaining the joy, creativity and affordability of toys.