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Germany fighting for safer toys in front of the European Court

Germany granted extended enforcement of stringent limit values on heavy metals in toys

04.06.2013 |CVRIA

In 2009, a new EU-directive for toys was adopted which had new limit values for heavy metals. Those were higher than German national limit values, seemingly blocking toys and products from the German market. This led to Germany explaining itself in front of the European Court, convincing judges to provisionally extend the application of its current limit values.

Designed as a unified domestic market, the European Union enforces the same regulations on products for each country. However, Germany resisted this enforcement when not adopting the 2009 EU directive for toys and kept on applying more stringent regulations on heavy metals in toys. The European Commission demanded to drop those older regulations, which eventually led to Germany having to explain itself in front of the European Court.

The European Court determined that Germany will be allowed to provisionally extend the application its current limit values for lead and barium in toys, but not those for mercury, arsenic, and antimony. The President of the Court has found that Germany did prove the actual and legal need to protect children’s health by applying more stringent limit values. However, it has also been determined that this argument over limit values gives rise to highly complex questions and thus needs more research on the effects of heavy metals in toys.

The ruling is only provisional; a final judgement will be delivered at a later case. The extension of applying the limit values has been granted until late July 2013.


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