The new Toy Safety Directive is part of the New Legislative Framework, which means that while the rules in the Directive define the “essential requirements” that toys must meet before being placed on the market, they do not include detailed technological specifications about how to ensure that risks are avoided. This detail is dealt with by harmonised standards which are drawn up by European standardisation bodies such as CEN and CENELEC. Products that comply with the harmonised standards are presumed to meet the corresponding essential requirements.
Standardisation is carried out by independent standards bodies, acting at national, European and international level. All interested parties (manufacturers, consumers, trade unions, environmental NGOs, public authorities, etc.) are involved in developing technical specifications.
This process results in a standard, which is a technical document designed to be used as a rule, guideline or definition. While the use of standards remains voluntary, the European Union has, since the mid-1980s, made increasing use of standards in support of its policies and legislation.
A European Standard (EN) automatically becomes a national standard in CEN/CENELEC’s 31 member countries.
All parties benefit from this voluntary process through increased product safety and quality as well as lower transaction costs and prices. Standardisation is also vital for the proper enforcement of market surveillance. Through the development of European standards and the withdrawal of conflicting national standards, standardisation has played a leading role in the achievement of a Single Market for goods. Standardisation also has a public interest dimension, in particular with regard to the issues of health, safety, and the environment.
Toys and standards
Directive 88/378/EEC on the safety of toys was one of the first so-called New Approach directives; setting out minimum safety requirements but leaving it to industry, through the European Standardisation Bodies (CEN and CENELEC), to agree detailed technical standards for how each type of product should meet them.
The New Approach is particularly appropriate for the toy sector, since the detailed standards can be updated more rapidly to take account of new product and application developments.
A summary list of harmonised standards under the Toy Safety Directive is available here.
TIE articles on standardisation are available here.
European Standardisation Organisations