The European Commission ("Commission") has recently presented a proposal for a revised Toy Safety Directive.

A revision of the existing Toy Safety Directive (Directive 88/378/EEC) was given priority because it no longer meets the objective of ensuring an adequate level of toy safety, whilst maintaining a smooth functioning of the internal market for toys. This is particularly necessary with regard to safety requirements, enforcement and the scope of application.

Objectives of the Toy Safety Directive

The revision of the Toy Safety Directive is aimed at:

  • strengthening, completing, clarifying and modernising the safety requirements for toys in order to respond, in particular, to scientific progress, market developments and an increased awareness of health and safety issues;

  • improving the implementation and enforcement of the Toy Safety Directive with regard to market surveillance obligations of Member States and conformity assessment requirements; and

  • clarifying and updating the scope, concepts and definitions of the Toy Safety Directive and ensuring consistency with the general framework for the marketing of products in the EU.

Issues addressed by the proposal

To achieve these objectives, the following issues are addressed by the proposal:

  • Prohibition of the use of CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic for Reproduction) substances;

  • Reduction of the allowed limits of certain dangerous chemical substances like lead or mercury;

  • Prohibition of allergenic fragrances;

  • Obligation for toy manufacturers to issue appropriate warnings to improve the prevention of accidents;

  • Strengthening the rules to prevent accidents caused by small parts in toys;

  • Banning of 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;

  • Requirement for toy manufacturers to establish comprehensive technical information for all their toys to allow (national) Market Surveillance Authorities to check the design and manufacture of the toy;

  • Foreseeing the testing of toys through independent laboratories where no standards for toys exist yet;

  • Reinforcement of the importer's responsibility for ensuring that toys imported into the EU are safe;

  • Enhancement of the visibility of the CE-marking on the toy;

  • Obligation on EU Member States to strengthen market surveillance and controls on the spot and at the EU borders; and

  • Obligation on EU 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.

Conclusion

If the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers decide to adopt the Commission's proposal for a revised Toy Safety Directive, the implementation thereof will lead to substantial costs for the toy industry. Bearing in mind that the toys industry is competitive, it can be expected that these costs will be passed on to consumers, who will have to bear the higher toy costs for the reduced probability of children contracting diseases from chemicals.