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European Parliament: Stricter Rules on Toy Safety

(Nov. 14, 2008) On November 5, 2008, the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament voted unanimously on a new directive that establishes stricter criteria on toy safety and prohibits the use in toys of certain dangerous substances, such as mercury and lead. Imports from countries outside the EU are subject to the same requirements.

The draft directive is in direct response to public safety concerns that arose after the importation of toys from China containing dangerous substances. Within the European Union, 80 percent of the toys on the market are imported from China. An additional factor that led to the reform of the existing toy rules was that the initial European Community rules, which were adopted in 1988, were outdated. As the Belgian Member of Parliament Marianne Thyssen commented, the old rules “are no longer appropriate for the new generation of toys.”

The draft directive imposes stricter requirements on:

· chemical substances and odors in educational toys that produce certain scents;

· imports of toys;

· safety warnings and toy manuals; and

· websites that sell toys, to publish warnings.

The proposal is expected to be passed by the full body of the European Parliament. (MEPs Vote to Tighten Rules on Toy Safety, EU OBSERVER, Nov. 6, 2008, available at