The European Union introduced a set of tighter restrictions on childrenâ€™s toys Wednesday, specifically addressing flame retardants and plastic softening chemicals called phthalates. The new measures could drastically hurt Chinese imports, which make up 80 percent of all EU toy imports.
The new legislation is aimed at ensuring children donâ€™t choke, swallow or inhale toys. Toys sold with or inside food will now need to be packaged separately and manufacturers must ensure their traceability. As a result of the guidelines, surveillance at EU borders will be tightened. Manufacturers, importers and distributors are expected to identify hazards to children.
In the past several years, Europe, the United States, and Japan have been attempting to keep substandard items out of their markets while still maintaining trade relations with China. The EU has been coordinating with Chinese authorities through the European early alert system, which encourages increased checks on imports for faulty goods.
Do your children own toys that contain phthalates?
Job creation, transparency and the economic recovery were major components of President Obamaâ€™s first State of the Union address, a nationally televised speech that called for a new political climate of â€œcommon sense.â€ The focus was on new proposals designed to contribute to economic growth, even in the face of political setbacks.
-Obama said he would use an executive order to create a bipartisan commission that would help reduce national debt.
-A three-year spending freeze is on the table, covering discretionary spending and excluding national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
-Obama pledged to work with Congress to repeal the militaryâ€™s â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ policy, which bars gay individuals from openly serving in the military.
-He proposed legislation to re-impose limits on campaign spending by corporations and interests groups that were recently lifted by a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
-The President called for congressional earmarks to be posted on a public Web site before a vote in order to increase transparency.
-Obama emphasized his continued to commitment to health care coverage. â€œDo not walk away from reform,â€ he said. â€œNot now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.â€
-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell led the Republican response to Obamaâ€™s address, focusing on federal debt and calling the presidentâ€™s freeze on discretionary spending â€œa laudable step, but a small one”.