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Cartoon boy admires new toy racing car © M. Boualam

New EU rules to raise toy safety standards, put greater responsibility on manufacturers/importers and beef up national market surveillance.

"The health and safety of children is non-negotiable and cannot be subject to any compromises," underlined enterprise commissioner Günter Verheugen. This is why the EU wants to set – and enforce – higher toy safety standards than ever before.

The commission has proposed new legislation to make a number of changes:

  • potentially harmful (carcinogenic) chemicals would be banned and lower limits introduced for certain dangerous substances such as lead and mercury
  • tighter rules and compulsory warnings concerning small parts would help prevent accidents
  • manufacturers would be required to provide comprehensive technical information for all their toys to make it easier for market surveillance authorities to do their work
  • manufacturers that failed to meet safety requirements would face tougher penalties
  • consumers would no longer have to open food packaging to get to toys that come with the food product
  • the visibility of the CE mark would be enhanced

The changes reflect gaps in the current legislation, which dates back to 1988. EU countries already have a duty to keep unsafe toys out of the shops, but the law is not flexible enough to keep pace with the new products being developed and new research findings. The proposed rules address these shortcomings.

Wide-ranging public consultations have been held on the changes, with over 1 500 replies received. The proposals now need to be discussed by EU institutions and adopted as soon as possible.

Overview of Europe's toy sector

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