Strict safety rules for toys

On the 25th January 2007, the European Commission came forward with new measures to improve toy safety in Europe. The Commission wants to strengthen EU-rules, especially those relating to the use of chemical substances in toys. The proposal tabled on the 25th January 2007 aims at enhancing the safety of toys replacing and modernizing the 20 years old Toys Directive 88/378/EEC of 3rd May 1988. The revision has a threefold objective: first and foremost there will be new and higher safety requirements to cope with recently identified hazards, secondly it will strengthen manufacturers’ and importers' responsibility for the marketing of toys and finally it enhances the market surveillance obligations of Member States.

New legislation for the safety of toys
The proposal addresses a wide range of issues to improve the existing rules for the marketing of toys that are produced in and imported into the EU in view to reducing toy related accidents and to achieving health benefits. It will, in particular:

  • 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 will also carry out further work on more detailed guidelines on warnings.
  • Strengthen the rules to prevent accidents due to small parts in toys.
  • Ban toys which 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 (e.g. for 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 Member States to strengthen market surveillance and controls on the spot and at the EU-borders.
  • Oblige Member States to lay down and impose penalties if toy manufacturers/importers do not produce toys in line with the safety requirements of the Directive.

The Commission proposal will now be discussed with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers with a view to an adoption in the co-decision procedure.