EU Parliament backs tighter EU rules for toy safety

London, UK, March 13 2024: Today, Parliament approved its position on revamped EU rules on toy safety with 603 votes in favour, 5 against and 15 abstentions. The text responds to a number of new challenges, mainly stemming from digital toys and online shopping, and converts the existing directive into a directly applicable regulation.

March 13, 2024

London, UK, March 13 2024: Today, Parliament approved its position on revamped EU rules on toy safety with 603 votes in favour, 5 against and 15 abstentions. The text responds to a number of new challenges, mainly stemming from digital toys and online shopping, and converts the existing directive into a directly applicable regulation. 

Ban on harmful chemicals

Focusing on children’s health and development, the proposal strengthens the requirements and bans on certain chemical substances in toys. The existing prohibition on carcinogenic and mutagenic substances or substances toxic for reproduction (CRM) is extended to chemicals that are particularly harmful to children, such as endocrine disruptors or chemicals affecting the respiratory system. The rules also target chemicals that are toxic to specific organs or are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. Toys should not contain any per- and polyfluorinated alkil substances (PFASs) either.

Strengthening checks

All toys sold in the EU will have to have a digital product passport (replacing the EU declaration of conformity), detailing compliance with the relevant safety rules. This will enhance the traceability of toys and make market surveillance and customs checks simpler and more efficient. Consumers will also have easy access to safety information and warnings, for example via a QR code. MEPs in their position urge the Commission to support and guide SME toy manufacturers in performing safety assessments and fulfilling the product passport requirements.

Safety, security and privacy by design

Toys with digital elements need to comply with safety, security and privacy by design standards. MEPs say toys using AI falling under the scope of the new Artificial Intelligence Act will have to comply with cybersecurity, personal data protection, and privacy requirements. Manufacturers of digitally connected toys need to follow the EU’s Cybersecurity rules and consider, where appropriate, the risks to mental health and the cognitive development of children using such toys.

Toys must also comply with the recently updated General Product Safety rules, for example, when it comes to online sales, accident reporting, consumer right to information and remedy.

A full overview of the proposal can be found here.

What does this mean for the Toy Industry?

The Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) shared a statement on their website today outlining the plenary vote to 'ban safe toys is bad news for children and reputable toymakers alike'. Their statement continues:

'By asking for the impossible, the Parliament is giving a huge free hand to rogue traders who will continue to make unsafe toys without caring about any new rules. They are pushing consumers into the hands of these rogue traders. It is difficult to imagine that that is what the European Parliament wants. Toy Industries of Europe is calling on the other EU institutions to mitigate negative effects of the EP report. While some improvements will help the effective application and enforcement of toy safety standards, very significant concerns remain that will jeopardise child safety:

  • The European Parliament’s report makes it impossible to use naturally occurring ingredients in toys. That means safe toys like crayons, paints, chalks etc will be banned.
  • It will also make it extremely difficult to maintain the current exemption for the safe use of stainless steel, which is needed for outdoor toys such as trampolines, go-carts etc. No alternative materials match stainless steel’s durability and safety standards for toys.
  • The transition period of 30 months is much too short for toymakers to be able to make the significant changes needed to comply with the new rule – many of which are outside their control. 
  • After entry into force, toymakers need to wait for new standards to be put in place, obtain clarity certain exemptions allowed for in the regulation, and implement a Digital Product Passport that has yet to be developed (these steps can easily take more than 30 months). And then start the normal 18-month process of developing a compliant toy.

Regrettably the European Parliament missed an easy opportunity to fix the loophole that lets sellers from outside the EU sell unsafe toys on online marketplaces. It is disappointing for toymakers who prioritise safety to see that online marketplaces still bear no legal responsibility for the sale of unsafe toys from third-country sellers on their platforms.

We had also hoped for the removal of the proposed limited sell-through period for safe toys already on the market when the new rules start applying. The extension to 20 months is not sufficient: hundreds of thousands of safe toys that remain longer on shop shelves will need to be traced down and destroyed. This is an inexcusable waste.

“While intending to do the opposite, the European Parliament has in fact taken a step backwards in terms of child safety and toys. We really hope that further down the legislative process, more account will be taken of whether or not what is proposed is realistic and whether it really adds more safety to the toy.” says Catherine Van Reeth, Director-General of TIE. “Our industry is dedicated to the safety and well-being of children across Europe. To achieve this, we need realistic and enforceable regulations that do not end up only benefitting rogue traders to the detriment of reputable toymakers.”

Aspects of the European Parliament position that TIE can welcome are:

  • The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is used for simplification. For example, manufacturers can provide compliance declarations in the DPP.
  • A full ban of chemicals that are Endocrine Disruptors for human health was supported. Toys compliant with the current Directive already pose no risk in this respect, but a full ban could help to make things clearer for everyone.
  • Requirements on sound and mental health are clearer and enforceable. Only rules that can be applied and enforced will have a positive impact on child safety.
  • A clarification that market surveillance authorities should always contact the economic operator responsible for compliance of a toy. This will ensure that rapid action can be taken in case of safety concerns.
  • Support for SMEs to comply with the new requirements of this Regulation.