On 9 October 9 2013, the European Commission (EC) published Decision 2013/492/EU in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), authorising Germany to apply national limit values for five heavy metals: antimony, arsenic, barium, lead and mercury, in toys. This is in addition to the earlier Decision 2012/160/EU published in March 2012, in which Germany was granted to retain the stricter limits for nitrosamines and nitrosatable substances in toys.
The EU’s allowance of Germany to maintain its higher restriction limits for toys has attracted some criticisms as this creates obstacles to the sale of toys on the German market. Highlights of the Decisions are summarised in Table A.
Table A. Highlights of the EC Decisions on German national chemical limits in toys
* For balloons made of natural or synthetic rubber
In January 2011, the German Federal Government requested the EC for the permission to retain the current national provisions for lead, arsenic, mercury, barium, antimony, nitrosamines and nitrosatable substances in toys beyond 20 July 2013 when the new chemicals requirements under the Toy Safety Directive (TSD) would enter into force. As the national requirements are more stringent than the requirements under the TSD, they would provide a higher level of protection for children.
In March 2012, the EC granted only certain parts of the application, stating that it was not justified to retain the national provisions for mercury, arsenic and antimony. Germany contested this decision by bringing an action against the EC in May 2012 to ensure that the stricter German limit values would be allowed to remain in place. Moreover, Germany applied for an interim relief procedure so as to be able to continue applying the existing national limit values until a final decision has been taken by the General Court of the European Union.
In May 2013, the General Court ordered the EC to approve the application of the limit values notified by Germany. This decision is provisional and is valid until the General Court or the Court of Justice has rendered its final judgement.