Saturday

15th May 2021

EU works to prevent dangerous Chinese toys entering market

  • Chinese products - which amount to over a quarter of all goods imported to the EU - are a number one for the bloc on account of safety issues (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission is working with China to prevent dangerous products entering the EU market, following a string of scandals over hazardous toys ending up in the bloc.

On Tuesday (14 August), US toymaker Mattel recalled 18.2 million Chinese-made toys worldwide, citing worries about paint containing lead and small magnets that can come loose.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Earlier this month, Mattel's Fisher-Price unit recalled 1.5 million toys also due to lead in paint, while the European Union issued a warning over Chinese toothpastes, body creams and hair dyes.

"We are working very hard with the Chinese authorities for training and information exchange", the European Commission spokesperson was cited as saying by Euronews on Wednesday (15 August). "They have access to our system for notification so that they can follow up with producers and manufacturers in China", he added.

Chinese products - which amount to over a quarter of all goods imported to the EU - are a number one for the bloc on account of safety issues.

In 2006, more than 900 products were identified as too dangerous to be sold in the 27-nation market, with China being the country of origin in almost half of all those cases.

In 2005, 80 percent of all notifications regarding hazardous toys involved Chinese-made items, according to AP.

In response to such statistics, the EU and China signed in January 2006 a cooperation agreement on product safety that allowed Beijing to access an EU database of product alerts and recalls (RAPEX). Beijing agreed to act when the products concerned were of its origin.

But so far, China's response has not been seen in Brussels as satisfactory, with EU consumer protection commissioner Meglena Kuneva stating in July "this has not been executed properly, because again two reports are not what we expected". "What we need is to track down all of our notifications", she added, according to AP.

Last month, China promised to give detailed quarterly reports on how it deals with European complaints about dangerous products.

However, Lars Gjoerup from Top-Toy, the biggest Nordic chain of toy-stores, pointed out that safety is also a matter of price.

"You get, what you pay for", Mr Gjoerup told Danish daily Politiken, adding "when you press down the price [of a product] and place the production in an unprofessional place, then you operate in a high-risk area".

But continuing scandals could eventually harm the "Made in China" label, as consumers themselves start to doubt the quality of such products.

According to poll conducted last week and cited by Reuters, 82 percent of Americans are concerned about Chinese goods and nearly two-thirds said they would support a boycott.

Senior US senator Dick Durbin has already called for third-party inspections of "all shipments of children's products from China that contain paint".

"We can't wait any longer for China to crack down on its lax safety standards," Mr Durbin added.

Commission says China's progress on toy safety 'encouraging'

The European Commission has said that "considerable progress" has been made by China on toy safety in response to several major toy recalls on health grounds. But it has proposed a string of initiatives aimed at strengthening the enforcement and implementation of product safety controls.

EU hits back at China's accusation over hazardous products

Amid growing concern about the safety of a series of Chinese products in recent weeks, the European Union has rejected a claim from Beijing that the bloc's response is politically motivated to protect its market.

EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050

The European Commission unveiled a plan to reduce pollution to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems by 2050 - including reducing the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55 percent.

Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office

Slovenia was supposed to nominate a delegated prosecutor for the new European Public Prosecutor Office, in charge of cracking down on corruption of EU funds. Ljubljana finalised procedures in December but has yet to send nominations, causing headaches.

News in Brief

  1. No EUobserver newsletter on Friday 14 May
  2. Germany stops Facebook gathering WhatsApp data
  3. Italy rebuts reports of EU deal with Libya
  4. MEPs demand EU states protect women's reproductive rights
  5. At least nine dead in Russia school shooting
  6. Bulgaria interim government appointed until July election
  7. German priests defy pope to bless same-sex couples
  8. New EU public prosecutor faults Slovenia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050
  2. French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy
  3. Vaccine drives spur better-than-expected EU economic recovery
  4. Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office
  5. 'No place to hide' in Gaza, as fighting escalates
  6. EU chases 90m AstraZeneca vaccines in fresh legal battle
  7. Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP
  8. Belgium outlines summer Covid relaxation plans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us