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Tag ‘toys’

Brussels has not banned balloons – but existing rules that could save kids’ lives remain

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Children to be banned from blowing up balloons, under EU safety rules (Daily Telegraph, 9th October 2011)

Brussels bans toys: Party blowers and other stocking fillers are barred in EU safety edict (Daily Mail, 10th October 2011)

Now Euro killjoys ban children’s party toys (Daily Express, 10th October 2011)


Several newspapers have claimed that “Brussels” has imposed new rules on the UK banning children from blowing up balloons or using party whistles. This is wholly untrue.

EU legislation on toy safety aims to protect young children from death and injury and reflects expert medical advice – and simple common sense.

Balloons and other toys placed in the mouth can and do cause death and injury.

The EU rules referred to date from 1988. They state that ballons made of latex must carry a warning to parents that children under eight years should be supervised. Stronger plastic ballons do not need to carry this warning.

They also state that all toys aimed at children under three should be large enough to prevent them being swallowed.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust says that each year, in the UK, over 15,000 children under five and a further 10,000 children aged between 5 and 14 are treated at accident and emergency units after choking. Only half these incidents involve food.

US research by the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that ” Of all children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death”. So similar rules exist in the US.

Rocking horses to be banned

Friday, November 28th, 2003

Off their rockers – EU wants to ban rocking horses (The Sun, 28 November 2003, page 35)
Barmy EU bosses are threatening to BAN rocking horses. A new “safety” law insists that toys for kids to ride indoors must be no more than 2ft high. That would nobble rocking horses – and mini carousels.

The European Committee for Standardisation (or CEN to use its French acronym), a non-EU body, has recently set a non-mandatory height standard for rocking toys. CEN standards are set by member states, consumer organisations and industry experts, including the British Standards Institution – the European Commission’s services are not involved. The EU Toys Directive 1988 recognises these standards, which aim to ensure products are safe and allow manufacturers to trade freely, but does not ban products that do not conform to them.

EU orders farmers to give toys to pigs

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

Real happiness is a pig in a toy shop (The Times, 29 January 2003, page 1)
Farmers throughout the country have 90 days to put a toy in every pigsty or face up to three months in jail. The new ruling from Brussels, which is to become law in Britain next week, is to keep pigs happy and prevent them chewing each other.

Under EU law pigs must be given ‘manipulable material’ to fulfil an important behavioural need. Examples of such materials given under the directive are straw, hay, and compost – there is no requirement for pigs to be given toys!
Inspections and penalties for non-compliance of legislation are the responsibility of the Member State. In the UK, the Horticulture Marketing Inspectorate is in charge of inspections. Produce inspected that does not conform to legislation is either regraded (if possible) or withdrawn from sale.

It should not be forgotten that all these norms have been demanded and requested for years by the industry and by the retailers. The Commission will continue to monitor this area for potential problems, but has no evidence that current EU standards are affecting the marketing of organic produce.

EU may try to ban sweet and toy ads

Friday, February 5th, 1999

The Times, 5 February 1999, page 38
Makers of sweets and toys are alarmed at a threat by the European Union to ban television ads for under-12s, and the Advertising Association is launching a campaign to fight it. ‘Campaign’ reports that a ban is already in place in Sweden, and that the Swedes are expected to try to extend it across Europe when they take up the EU Presidency in 2001.

There are no EU plans whatsoever to ban television advertising for sweets and toys. The national policy of a single Member State (in this case Sweden) can in no way be assumed to lead inexorably to EU action. Were the Swedes to make a proposal concerning advertising during their presidency, the proposal would have to gain the support of the other Member State governments. As advertisements for under-12s are not banned in the UK, France, Germany, Italy etc. such a proposal would seem unlikely to succeed.

EC plan to ban noisy toys

Sunday, January 14th, 1996

Myth: A draft European Directive threatens to ban noisy toys. “The proposed Euro rules would mean that tin plate clicking frogs, tin whistles, old fashioned football rattles, ear-piercing whistles and toy xylophones may… be silenced for good.
Sources: Independent on Sunday,  News Of The World, Sunday People, Sunday Telegraph (14 January 1996), The Sun (15 January 1996)

Truth: A general Directive on toy safety was agreed in 1988. Under the new approach to harmonisation directives, the detailed laying down of technical specifications to meet the essential requirements of the directives is left to the standrads body.

The existing European standards for toy safety are the EN71 series standards. The EC has indeed asked the standards body concerned (CEN) to look at the question of noise intensity in revising this standard. This standards body on which are represented manufacturers, consumer bodies and other interested parties has carried out scientific work using as one of its bases the existing EC directive on the protection of noise at work.

No final decision has been taken, but a draft proposal does exist relating to continual and peak sounds of certain types of toys such as those designed to be places near to the ear including for example a music box which might be placed in a child’s cot, and indeed whose sound level results from the child blowing it, eg whistles or musical instruments, radios, tape recorders, etc.

Comments on the proposal are welcome. the revised EN71-1 standard on toys may be adopted by the end of this year or early next year and there will be a transition period of two years. The standards are voluntary, unless transposed into legislation. If a toy is manufactured in accordance with these new standards there is a presumption that it meets with the ‘essential requirements of the 1988 toy directive’. Manufacturers not conforming to the technical standards have to prove that they do conform to the essential requirements of the original 1988 directive on toy safety.

Chinese toy imports are to be banned unless humanlike in form

Thursday, July 14th, 1994

Myth: Chinese imports of Dr Spock are to be banned by the EU, although Captain Kirk will be allowed entry, due to new trade quotas dreamed up by Brussels bureaucrats restricting toy imports from outside the European Community. Only toys that are human-like can be allowed in, creating even more of a problem for Customs officials who have to consider the status of the likes of Noddy and Big Ears.
Source:  Press Association (14 July 1994), The Times, The Guardian, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Express (15 July 1994)

Response: This is not quite the case. Brussels is not in fact banning anything. The story originates from a decision to reform the quota system taken by the member states in February 1994, and is but a small part of a much larger package of trade liberalisation for Chinese products. For its part the European Commission has seen the problem that the quotas have caused for importers, and has therefore proposed an increase of some £120m for this year. It remains to be seen whether the Member States will agree to this initiative.

The EU quota does indeed draw a distinction between “dolls representing human beings” and “animals and non-human creatures”, and the quota does apply to the latter and not to the former. However this is an international customs distinction, drawn up by the 150 countries of the Customs Co-operation Council in 1950, well before the EU was established.

Sale of second hand toys by charity shops illegal

Friday, March 12th, 1993

Charity Shops are banned from selling second-hand toys as a result of the EC Toy Safety Directive.
(Financial Times, 12 March 1993)

All toys placed on the Community market for the first time must bear the CE mark. This also applies to new toys sold for charitable reasons. Second hand toys sold for charitable reasons are beyond the scope of the Directive. The responsibility for deciding whether unmarked second-hand toys may be sold in a particular national market is left to the national authorities concerned. In the UK the Sale of Goods Act 1979 requires goods sold by traders to be of satisfactory quality. Traders selling new or second hand goods must also comply with general consumer protection legislation, such as the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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