Tuesday

9th Aug 2022

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.

UN chief demands access to nuclear plant after new attack

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Monday for international inspectors to be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over the shelling of Europe's largest atomic plant over the weekend.

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief as well as the Greek prime minister's top aide.

Opinion

How Ukraine made the case anew for an EU army

The Kremlin attacked Ukraine because it believed it could afford to. It perceived nuclear deterrence between Russia and the West as reciprocal, and therefore almost a non-issue. It also saw, in military terms, Europe is disappearing from the world map.

Opinion

How Ukraine made the case anew for an EU army

The Kremlin attacked Ukraine because it believed it could afford to. It perceived nuclear deterrence between Russia and the West as reciprocal, and therefore almost a non-issue. It also saw, in military terms, Europe is disappearing from the world map.

News in Brief

  1. Rhine river on the brink of closure for shipping
  2. Moldova sees 'prelude to war' with Russia-backed forces
  3. Taliban preventing Afghan evacuations to Germany
  4. Amnesty regrets 'distress' caused by Ukraine report
  5. Energy companies warn UK gas exports to EU are contaminated
  6. EU set for clash over rules on political adverts
  7. Three grain ships due to leave Ukraine on Friday
  8. EU on track to reach gas-storage November target

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Italy poised to elect far-right rulers
  2. UN chief demands access to nuclear plant after new attack
  3. Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal
  4. How Ukraine made the case anew for an EU army
  5. 'We must take back institutions', Orban tells US conservatives
  6. Putin must lose Ukraine war, Nato chief says
  7. Let Taiwan's democracy shine brighter
  8. Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us