Call for change: safer, healthier toys in the European Union
The current Toy Safety Directive (TSD) no longer meets current standards and needs to be revised, according to EU regulators.
The EU Toy Safety Directive, since its adoption in 2009, has been constantly under evaluation. Together with the European Commission’s evaluation report from 2020, the recently adopted report of the European Parliament from February 2022 calls for stricter rules to ensure that all toys sold in the European Union are safe for children.
The most necessary aspects to review
The TDS has been amended several times and covers many aspects such as radioactivity, chemical, and flammability risks. Nonetheless, it still has shortcomings, mostly related to health and safety objectives.
The report of the European Parliament states the necessity to improve the Directive's effectiveness by converting it into a Regulation, with particular attention to the following aspects:
· specific limit values for chemicals that apply to toys for children under 36 months of age and toys that are intended to be placed in the mouth ;
· removal of derogations and full ban on chemicals, which are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction (CMR);
· reduce values for usage of nitrosamines and nitrosatable substances to the level allowed in Germany;
· take into consideration endocrine disruptors (also as part of horizontal legislation) and combination effects of chemicals;
· problems with updating labelling requirements for specific allergenic substances in certain “experimental” toy sets;
· introduce sustainable labelling for toys
· possible bypass by manufacturers of the “small parts requirement” for toys intended for children under 36 months of age;
· Enhanced market surveillance: including testing toys on the market and verifying manufacturers’ documentation. Market surveillance activities should also include withdrawing unsafe toys from the market, taking actions against manufacturers responsible for putting them on the market, and cooperation with the third countries.
Potentially consolidate all applicable limit values for toys in one piece of legislation, and not have values, which diverge between applicable regulations, e.g., the REACH Regulation, the RoHS Directive, the CLP Regulation, the Cosmetics Regulation.
Connected toys: data protection of children
Another important issue that concerns EU Parliament is the timing of the adoption of new measures. For instance, the implementing process is relatively slow when it comes to new technological developments related to internet-connected toys, such as watches, educational robots, dolls, and tablets. Many new toys with an internet connection may be easily hacked, putting children in danger. In fact, the current Toy Safety Directive does not tackle the security of such toys. Consequently, the Directive cannot sufficiently address concerns for the protection of the private data of children. Furthermore, a recent investigation study shows that four out of seven internet-connected toys tested could easily be hacked and used to communicate with a child.
The above-mentioned changes will not be implemented until the current Toy Safety Directive is revised. The Commission has committed to working on it, although they have not revealed the definite timetable yet.
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1) Bauer-Babef, Clara. (2022). MEPs call for ‘outdated. EU toy safety directive to be updated. EURACTIV.fr. Retrieved on 21/03/22 from: https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/news/meps-call-for-outdated-eu-toy-safety-directive-to-be-updated/.
2) European Parliament. (2022). MEPs want new rules for toy safety. Europa.eu. Retrieved on 20/03/22 from: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/economy/20211202STO18649/meps-want-new-rules-for-toy-safety.
3) European Commission. (2020). Commission Staff Working Document Evaluation of Directive 2009/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the safety of toys. Europa.eu. Retrieved on 20/03/22 from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52020SC0287&rid=6.
4) European Parliament. (2022), Briefing. Implementation in action. The Eu Toy Safety Directive. Europa.eu. Retrieved on 20/03/22 from: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2021/662632/EPRS_BRI(2021)662632_EN.pdf.