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Friday, January 25, 2008

EU proposes stricter toy safety rules

BRUSSELS—The European Commission today announced a plan to toughen toy safety standards in the European Union, with particular emphasis on chemicals used in children’s playthings.

The proposed plan would replace and modernizes the 20-year-old Toys Directive 88/378/EEC, enacted in May of 1988. The revised standards have been devised to: address new and higher safety requirements to cope with recently identified hazards; strengthen manufacturers’ and importers' responsibility for the marketing of toys; and enhance the market surveillance obligations of EU member states.

“Health and safety of children is non-negotiable and cannot be subject to any compromises. That is why we have to ensure that toys put on the market in Europe are safe,” said Günter Verheugen, the Commission’s vice president responsible for enterprise and industrial policy. “The proposed new Directive which was adopted today incorporates the newest health and safety standards and improves the effectiveness and enforcement of the EU legal framework. Economic operators are now called to live up to their responsibilities to ensure that children can enjoy playing with toys without risks.”

The new legislation would:
• prohibit the use of chemical substances that are susceptible to provoke cancer, so-called CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic for Reproduction) substances;
• reduce the allowed limits of certain dangerous chemical substances like lead or mercury;
• prohibit allergenic fragrances;
• oblige toy manufacturers to issue appropriate warnings to improve the prevention of accidents. (The Commission is still working on developing detailed guidelines about such warnings);
• strengthen the rules to prevent accidents due to small parts in toys;
• ban toys that are firmly attached to a food product at the moment of consumption and which require food to be consumed before getting access to the toy;
• require toy manufacturers to establish comprehensive technical information for all their toys to allow market surveillance authorities to check the design and manufacture of the toy;
• foresee testing of toys through independent laboratories where no standards for toys yet exist (for example, toys with magnets);
• reinforce the importer's responsibility for ensuring that toys imported into the EU are safe;
• enhance the visibility of the CE mark on the toy;
• oblige EU member states to strengthen market surveillance and controls on the spot and at the EU borders,
• oblige member states to impose penalties if toy manufacturers/importers do not produce toys in line with the new safety requirements.

Details of the proposal’s specific regulations can be found at

In response to the proposal, trade group Toy Industries of Europe said it welcomed the revision of the EU’s Toy Safety Directive but warned that “the new proposal will raise many challenges for the industry, in particular when it comes to the practical implementation of the new rules. We do, however, welcome the increased efforts to improve the enforcement of the safety rules to ensure that products on the market are safe. TIE looks forward to playing an active role in the future discussions on this issue in the weeks and months to come.”

The proposal’s next step will be discussions with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers with a view towards its adoption.

Source : Playthings Magazine

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