MEP warns of toy bans

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva has warned of tougher toy safety measures to come.
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After a review last week to assess the level of danger to European children, she confirmed her faith in existing safety rules but said she had launched a two month review of all existing checks.

She called the review a "last warning" saying that if dangers remain "we will impose the next layer of measures. Among them is a ban on products".

Toy safety in Europe is currently covered by the General Product Safety Directive - GPSD. This places the onus on manufacturers and importers to ensure that products are safe and authorities are informed if there is a problem.

The enforcement of these regulations is left with individual EU Member States. The European Commission currently coordinates a "RAPEX" rapid alert system for non-food dangerous goods. This means any problems in one place are communicated immediately to all EU members.

Members are already turning their attention to product arriving for Christmas.

British MEP Arlene McCarthy who chairs the Internal Market Committee asked fellow MEPs and the Commissioner: "can we reassure parents by saying that their children will receive safer toys in Christmas?"

McCarthy reminded fellow Members that she had previously called for "tougher controls to intercept dangerous goods at the border and stronger national inspection and enforcement to ensure dangerous toys don't reach the shelves".

MEPs on the Committee from different political groups generally agreed with the Commissioner that better enforcement is necessary. Finnish MEP Alexander Stubb said the RAPEX system worked well but stressed the need for more cooperation.

Kuneva reassured MEPs that stringent checks would be made for the Christmas period. However, she said the discussions have wider implications. "The present debate is not just about toys and China, it embodies profound issues related to our ability to build consumer confidence in an open trading model, to better regulation and basic confidence in governance".

MEPs vowed to closely monitor the results of the Commission's two month reappraisal of the rules.

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