Santa’s best helpers: standards working for toy safety in the Single Market  

Christmas is approaching and parents are getting ready to buy toys for their children to put under the Christmas tree. But while roaming across the huge offer of toys on the market, how can parents ensure that what they are buying is safe for their kids to use? Thanks to standardization and the European Single Market, parents can rest assured that everywhere in the European Union, they can receive clear information on the safety of the toys they buy.

Indeed, ensuring the same high level of consumers' protection all around the EU has been among the main objectives of the Single Market since its foundation 25 years ago. Standards give a valuable contribution, by providing the technical guidelines for products that make the high ambitions of the Single Market possible.

The role of standards in the context of the Single Market is particularly relevant for toys: given their common presence in all households and their proximity to children, it is not a surprise that standardization has already a long history in ensuring toy safety. The first standards on toy safety were developed even before the establishment of the Single Market: the first European standard for toys, EN 71-1 ‘Safety of toys - Mechanical and physical properties’, was published in 1979.

From then onwards, the whole architecture of toy safety standardization was built: in 1988 the first European Toy Safety Directive (88/378/EEC) was published, and EN 71-1 was updated in order to support it. The Directive was revised in 2009, with the publication of the new Directive 2009/48/EC, also known as the ‘Toy Safety Directive’, which is now the main text of reference for the harmonisation of safety rules across the Single Market.

Throughout this process, standards on toy safety have been updated and improved, and their corpus has grown extensively over the decades, under the responsibility of CEN/TC 52 ‘Safety of toys’, whose Secretariat is held by Danish Standards. Some of the most important standards related to toy safety are EN 71-2 ‘Flammability’ and EN 71-3 ‘Migration of certain elements’. The evolution of these standards has taken into account new types of toys and technologies, and thereby potential new hazards: European standardizers have addressed these by adding more definitions, requirements, test methods (and rationale) to the standard.

The success of this collective effort has been confirmed recently by European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová who on 6 December 2018, Saint Nicholas Day, presented the results of an action focused on testing toys, which showed that almost 90% of toys tested in the EU did not show any chemical risks. This high level of safety is ensured by standards, which in the weeks before Christmas, are really Santa’s best helpers!

To know more about how standards contribute towards harmonising toy safety rules in the Single Market, watch our series of interviews with Christian Wetterberg, Chairman of CEN/TC 52 ‘Toy Safety’ and Senior Director, Global Head of Product Safety & Compliance, LEGO Group:

For more information, please contact Claire Dalier.


This article is the first one of a series of three articles that CEN and CENELEC will publish this week dedicated to the toy safety standardization ecosystem. This article is part of our campaign on the 25th Anniversary of the EU Single Market. Follow us throughout the year with the hashtag #SingleMarket. Let us know your examples of how European Standards contributed to the prosperity of the EU economy or how they impact your life for the better. Tell us your stories through the hashtag #TellEUstandards.