Toy Safety Directive alone is not enough to protect children from unsafe toys sold online

Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) represents the reputable toy makers who prioritise toy safety. TIE welcomes the adoption of a balanced report on the Toy Safety Directive by the European Parliament (EP) in plenary today.

A successful revised Toy Safety Directive will keep toys safe, affordable and fun and several of the calls in the EP report will help to achieve that. But in order to protect children from unsafe toys sold online, the Directive needs to go hand in hand with a stronger Digital Services Act (DSA) and General Product Safety Regulation (GPSR).

EP report’s positives

TIE takes note of the following positive aspects from the EP report:

  • Recognition of the importance of toys to enable and enrich play which is essential for children’s development, health and well-being
  • Proposal to change the Directive into a Regulation as this would make it more effective
  • Acknowledgment of the limited funding and human resources which hamper market surveillance
  • Call to address the issue with non-compliant and unsafe toys sold online by applying the ‘know your business customer’ (KYBC) principle while acknowledging that the product safety pledge yielded limited results
  • Call to keep additional labelling requirements to a minimum to avoid attention being diverted from warnings and safety information

Making what is illegal offline also illegal online

Our own analysis of the toy alerts available on the EU Safety Gate for 2021 shows yet again that the problem lies with dishonest traders. A whopping 97% of all toy alerts are linked to illegal traders, half of whom failed to meet basic requirements such as providing a manufacturer name and address. These traders often operate online as the lack of regulation in the online space makes it easy for them to avoid the rules and go unpunished.

The Toy Safety Directive is only a piece of the puzzle in tackling the complex issue with online dishonest traders. We call on the EP to also use the DSA and the GPSR to ensure unsafe toys do not reach children.

As the DSA is currently in interinstitutional negotiations, we trust to see a final deal that will oblige all business sellers on online platforms to be traceable no matter if they sell on a marketplace or through advertising on social media. With the GPSR, legislators have the opportunity to close the loopholes regarding third party sellers on online marketplaces that are based outside the EU or are untraceable. This can be done for example by introducing an importer obligation for online marketplaces.

Safety rules must be based on sound science

The Toy Safety Directive must continue to impose the rigorous scientific approach to the use of chemical substances in toys that it currently does. Today a spoon from a toy tea set is subject to stricter requirements than a real spoon a child eats with. Policies must avoid bans on chemicals that would not result in more safety but would unnecessarily force toys and SMEs off the market and would only benefit rogue traders who disregard the rules.