As always, as Christmas knocks on the door everyone starts racing for gifts which are mostly addressed to kids.

With regards to children, some important safety issues are however at the center of the debate, above all on the occasion of last minutes online and offline purchases.

Not everyone knows that European Union, while allowing for imports of products from third countries, provides for safety and quality standards which are very strict and selective for any kind of consumer good and, in particular, for toys.

It is also little known that such standards are among the highest in the world for products especially conceived for children’s use.

As a matter of fact, in 2009 the European Union adopted a directive on the safety of toys that all Member States are required to abide by, also by means of their respective implementing national provisions.

Among the main topics addressed by this directive, we can certainly find those concerning CE marking obligations – basically reflecting a declaration of conformity on compliance with applicable regulations – upon toys which are legally available on the EU market.

Moreover, «CE» marking does not only meet consumers’ health and safety requirements. Indeed, for a product to be marked with such CE sign, conditions relating to environmental safeguard need to be fully satisfied.

Besides, with specific reference to toys sector, EU provisions are periodically updated in order to meet brand new market needs concerning children’s health and safety. Accordingly, the legislator is able to set out, inter alia, which chemicals can be deployed for their manufacture, particular obligations on distributors and retailers and specific criteria for fines imposition (even set out by criminal law), when rules are broken.

The issue is of the utmost importance if we consider that liability for flaws of toys not only is attributable to manufacturers, but also to importers and distributors, where these ones place a toy on the market by using their own names or trademarks or modify a toy which is already placed on the market, so that it might not be fully compliant with the original provisions. Additionally, the problem for importers frequently originates when the product enters the EU territory. Here, knotty customs issues might ask for a quick solution.

Although this regulation is almost ten years old, the issue always remains of the utmost relevance as long as, in the 2018 report on the Safety Gateway System, the European Commission estimated that, for this reference year, the most dangerous products were represented by toys (on average 31%) and cars (on average 19%). This shows that giving the greatest attention to this topic is crucial both for legislators and for consumers.

In this respect, besides monitoring the correct application of the directive a stake, the European Commission made available to consumers an online platform, named Rapid Alert System for non-food products, thanks to which it is possible to check whether the purchased products have been subject to a particular recall.

With a view to coming Christmas shopping, in case of doubt it is always good to have a look at this web platform, before letting your children play with a toy that might turn out to be unsafe.

If you are instead manufacturers, importers, distributors or retailers of toys and you detect flaws or defects on a product which has already been placed on the market, it is better to promptly activate all necessary procedures to avoid significant liabilities.