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Kuneva tells EU laggards to unite against toxic toys

Date: 09.09.2007

Meglena Kuneva, European commissioner for consumer protection, has delivered a stern message to national governments failing to toe the line on consumer protection. Kuneva criticised national administrations for dodging the enforcement of EU rules.

She was speaking in the wake of the latest ‘Made in China’ scare, in which toymaker Mattel was forced this week to recall more than 800,000 toys because of fears that they were tainted with lead.

Under pressure from member states and the European Parliament to take action in the run-up to the Christmas shopping season, Kuneva said that EU countries should confront the problem as one. She said that no European country on its own could talk on an equal footing with China.

Mattel called back 800,000 toys on Tuesday (4 September), including 675,000 Barbie doll accessories, adding to concerns about toxic toys. Mattel’s last recall in mid-August covered 19 million toys worldwide. This followed a recall of 1.5 million toys at the beginning of August. More than half the toys sold in the EU are made in China.

German Finance Minister Michael Glos this week wrote to Günter Verheugen, the commissioner for enterprise and industry, suggesting that an EU-wide technical service agency be set up to inspect imported Chinese toys. The Portuguese government has also demanded action from Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

But Kuneva insisted that current legislation should be enforced properly before creating new structures.

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