There are around 80 million children under 14 in the EU, and about 2 000 companies employing over 100 000 people directly in the toys and games sector, most are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Toys and games are vital tools for child development. Whilst manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their products, importers, notified bodies and national authorities all have a role to play in ensuring toys sold in Europe’s shops fulfil all safety requirements.
Ensuring safety requirements and standards keep up with the latest toy trends is vital, especially as new materials and manufacturing processes are constantly being developed.
The internal market for toys has positively contributed to the development of the sector and to consumer protection, by harmonising the safety characteristics of toys across the EU. The new Toy Safety Directive strengthens provisions on enforcement and new safety requirements, ensuring children continue to benefit from the highest levels of protection.
The new Directive improves the existing rules for the marketing of toys produced in or imported into the EU, aiming to reduce toy related accidents and achieve long-term health benefits.
Today, Europe’s most important trading partners remain the USA for exports, and the Far East for imports. One of the main opportunities for the European toy industry is the export potential of high quality European products, which the Commission supports by improving market access conditions in third countries.
On 30 June 2009 the new Toy Safety Directive was published.
- It substantially amends the old Directive across virtually all safety aspects.
- It fulfils to the highest level the newest health and safety standards.
- It improves 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 achieving long-term health benefits.
According to its Better Regulation initiative, the Commission has also engaged in simplifying the current legislative framework and increasing its quality and efficiency.
Directive 2009/48/EC applies to toys defined as “products designed or intended, whether or not exclusively, for use in play by children under 14 years of age”.
It foresees 19 products not to be considered as toys within the meaning of the Directive and 5 toys the Directive is not applying to (for example, toy steam engines, slings…etc.).
This new Directive came into force on 20 July 2009, and will become a legal document in all Member States once it has been implemented into national legislation (by 20 January 2011).
The Member States must begin applying the new measures from 20 of July 2011, except for annex II part III (chemical requirements).
The new Directive brings in particular more references on chemicals by limiting the amounts of certain chemicals that may be contained in materials used for toys.
Chemicals that are susceptible to provoke cancer, change genetic information or harm reproduction, so-called CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic for Reproduction) substances, are no longer allowed in accessible parts of toys.
For certain substances like nickel the tolerable limit values have been reduced and those heavy metals which are particularly toxic, like lead or mercury, may no longer be intentionally used in toys.
Allergenic fragrances are either completely forbidden, if they have a strong allergenic potential, or have to be labeled on the toy if they are potentially allergenic for some consumers.
Recognizing that this is a more complicated area, the parts of the Directive relating to chemical content will come into force on 20 July 2013. During this transitional period, part III of annex II of Directive 88/378/EEC will continue to apply.
Information from European Comission selected by Josep Tous