Brussels, 17 December 2008
Tomorrow, European Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva will sign an agreement with representatives of toy retailers and importers in a toy store near Brussels, as part of the Commission's drive to improve toy safety by engaging all actors throughout the toy industry. The signing ceremony will take place with Commissioner Kuneva and representatives of European Toy Retailers and Importers at 11:30 on 18 December, in the Dreamland toy shop, Rue Hendrik I Lei 16, Vilvoorde 1800. The industry signatories (see list below) will agree to a number of activities to further improve toy safety, including providing education and training on safety standards, with a particular focus on the "lower end of the market" where the vast majority of non-compliant toys are found; work to ensure compliance with all relevant EU and national legislation will be intensified at retail and import level. Clear safety guidelines will be developed for use throughout the industry, to outline the systems and procedures that can be put in place to ensure that products meet the required standards. The signatories are also committing to further co-operation with the European Commission as part of a multi-stakeholder industry forum to take forwards the recommendations set out in the Commission's fact finding mission "Evaluating Business Safety Measures in the Toy Supply Chain". Earlier this year, the Commission signed a similar agreement with Toy Industries of Europe.
Commissioner Kuneva said: "As Christmas approaches, we are once again reminded of how many households across the EU rely on the toy industry to deliver safe, reliable products. Children are our most vulnerable consumers, and there can be no compromise when it comes to ensuring their well-being. The agreement with toy importers and retailers is a very positive sign of the industry's commitment to toy safety, and should help to further reinforce the system that has been put in place to ensure the safety of all toys sold in the EU."
Industry plays an extremely important role in ensuring a high level of product safety in the EU. Manufacturers, distributors, retailers and importers have primary responsibility for the safety of the products that are put on the market, under EU law. A product safety stocktaking exercise carried out by the Commission at the end of 2007 (after a series of high-profile recalls), showed that while reputable businesses make significant efforts to ensure that their products are safe, dangerous goods, including toys, are still finding their way onto the EU market. This is mainly due to gaps at the lower end of the market, where safety procedures are not as rigorously respected or adhered to as they should be. In addition, smaller economic operators (both European and in trading partners) find it more difficult to deal with safety issues due, amongst other things, to a lack of in-depth knowledge of the rules, a lower number of dedicated personnel, weaker quality management systems and less supplier control. For this reason, it is crucial to have the commitment of EU retailers and importers in pushing forward the toy safety agenda and carrying out the necessary safety actions at ground level.
The activities that will be committed to in tomorrow's voluntary agreement – including the provision of training to those who need it, and the development of clear safety guidelines - will contribute to raising the safety standard throughout the toy production and supply chain, and to keeping more unsafe toys away from European consumers. The Commission will continue to collaborate closely with these stakeholders, and monitor the activities of all economic operators to ensure that the highest possible safety standards are maintained in the EU. The signatories are committed to further co-operation with the Commission in a multi-stakeholder context and to taking forward the more detailed recommendations from the Commission's fact finding mission "Evaluating Business Safety Measures in the Toy Supply Chain" (see IP/08/879).
Signing the voluntary Safety Pact tomorrow are:
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