The new rules aim to decrease the number of unsafe toys sold in the EU single market and protect children better from toy-related risks.
On Tuesday, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee approved its position on an update of EU rules on toy safety unanimously, with 37 votes in favour. The text, which also converts the current directive into a regulation, responds to a number of emerging challenges, including the changes in purchasing habits from online shops and the increased use of digital technologies.
Ban on harmful chemicals
To improve child health protection, the regulation continues to prohibit carcinogenic and mutagenic substances or substances toxic for reproduction (CRM). The adopted text additionally bans chemicals harmful to the endocrine or the respiratory system, and toxic to specific organs.
The draft rules provide for manufacturers to create digital product passports for each toy, which detail how it complies with the relevant rules. This will enhance market surveillance and strengthen customs inspections at borders. MEPs added that consumers should also have easy access to safety information, for example via a QR code. They also 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
To prevent overlaps with existing EU rules, MEPs specify that digital toys with AI will have to comply with the Artificial Intelligence Act, which classifies them as high-risk, and subjects them to third-party assessments, risk management, transparency, and human oversight.
Under EU Cybersecurity rules, internet connected toys that have social interactive features (e.g. speaking or filming) may also require a third-party conformity assessment. The safety assessment will have to consider health risks, and when appropriate mental health, to ensure the highest standards for children’s well-being.
Toys must also comply with the recently updated General Product Safety rules, for example, when it comes to online sales, accident reporting, consumers’ right to information and remedy.
Rapporteur Marion Walsmann (EPP, Germany) said: “The health of our children is paramount. There is no place in a child’s room for unsafe toys. The updated text protects children more effectively from harmful chemicals in toys, reduces administrative burdens and bolsters the detection of unsafe toys, especially from outside the EU. This ensures fair competition for EU toy manufacturers, most of whom are SMEs, and provides them with additional support”.
The draft report will now be put to a vote at an upcoming plenary session and will constitute Parliament’s position at first reading. The file will be followed up by the new Parliament after the European elections on 6-9 June.
Despite the EU market being among the safest in the world, dangerous toys still find their way into consumers’ hands. According to the EU Safety Gate (the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products), toys were the most notified product category, accounting for 23% of all notifications in 2022 and 20% in 2021.