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26 May 2022

ALERT: Parents hit with Christmas warning over 'illegal and dangerous toys'

ALERT: Parents hit with Christmas warning over 'illegal and dangerous toys'

ALERT: Parents hit with Christmas warning over 'illegal and dangerous toys'

Consumers should take precautions when buying toys online for children this Christmas. That's according to Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune from Fine Gael, who warns that the vast majority of toys sold on online platforms do not meet EU safety standards and that new EU legislation is needed to ensure the safety of buying such products online.  

Recent studies have highlighted serious defects in toys sold on many online platforms. An assessment carried out by Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) in 2020 found that out of 193 toys that they surveyed, 97.4% were being sold illegally in the EU, while 76.1% were identified as dangerous, with the potential to seriously harm children who played with them. Some key risks they identified included sharp points, risks of choking, strangulation or burns, as well as flammability and unsafe chemicals.

This week, MEP Clune will vote as part of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) on a report on how the Toy Safety Directive from 2009 has been implemented so far and to highlight its shortcomings and how it can be improved. The goal of the report is to continue to ensure a high level of health and safety with respect to children’s toys and to reinforce manufacturers’, importers’ and distributors’ responsibility for the marketing of toys.

It also suggests what future changes can help to achieve this. The report calls for the elimination of the sale of non-compliant and dangerous toys online and greater market surveillance. It also highlights a need to address concerns regarding the rise of connected toys, products that were not in existence when the Directive was first adopted, but that may present specific risks of harm to children's safety, security, privacy and mental health.

In another draft report due to be voted on in December, the Digital Services Act (DSA), the European Parliament has proposed a series of measures to strengthen consumer protection and enhance product safety. This proposal tries to address some of the concerns with online platforms by establishing a powerful transparency and accountability framework regarding their responsibilities towards what is being sold on their platform. Big platforms will no longer be able to turn a blind eye towards unsafe products.

MEP Clune commented: “While the EU already has the world’s strictest toy safety legislation, it is very important that we take more strides to reduce the instances of unsafe toys being sold on online platforms. While this legislative process is underway, I urge consumers to try where possible to buy directly from reputable shops online, rather than purchasing from third parties on various online platforms.

"Often, such toys do not comply with even basic EU safety regulations and will go on sale on these platforms, be subsequently flagged as unsafe and taken down but then show up the next day on the site, from an apparently different seller all the while presenting the same risks. Consumers should also be wary of products that are marketed cheaper than expected, as these may be counterfeit and of poor quality, but it is not always easy to see that what is being sold is unsafe.”

MEP Clune added: “As a member of the IMCO Committee, I have been strongly advocating for EU legislation enshrining the "Know Your Business Customer Principle" like what we will try to include in the DSA. This would ensure that mandatory procedures are in place for large platforms to remove illegal goods and that online platforms will also be requested to know who their traders are, to increase compliance and traceability. If you do purchase an unsafe toy, I would urge you to please report it to RAPEX, the EU's rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products. This information will then be circulated across Europe and may protect others from buying the same product.”

 

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