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IP/05/1278

Brussels, 14 October 2005

Better regulation: Improved safety for fireworks and air bags

The Commission has proposed to replace some 25 parallel national approval procedures of fireworks and airbags by one single EU directive. This practical example of better regulation will lead to a considerable reduction in costs for the industries concerned, and ensure that essential safety requirements for pyrotechnic articles are respected throughout the EU. The basic aim is to reduce the risk of accidents caused by malfunctions and to increase consumer safety as sub-standard pyrotechnic articles will no longer be available on the EU market.

The EU market for fireworks is estimated at around €1.4 billion, but few fireworks are manufactured in the EU. Automotive occupant restraint systems are placed in around 20 million vehicles in the EU each year, which translates into around 80 million airbag systems with a value of some €3.5 billion and around 90 million seat belt pre-tensioners with a value of approximately €2 billion.

The Commission proposes the following safety requirements:

  • Physical and chemical stability; compatibility of all components
  • Resistance to normal, foreseeable handling and transportation
  • Resistance against water and low and high temperatures
  • Safety features to prevent untimely or inadvertent initiation or ignition
  • Suitable instructions in the official language or languages of the recipient Member State
  • Ability to withstand deterioration.

Manufacturers will be obliged to comply with these requirements, which in return give them the right to affix the CE marking and access to the internal market.

At the same time, taking into account the variety of different national regulations on the marketing and use of fireworks, the proposal leaves the possibility for Member States to maintain their own regulations as far as the minimum age and the marketing and use of certain categories of fireworks are concerned.

And what about storage and manufacturing?

The intention of the proposal is to deal with product characteristics, not with questions arising from the storage and manufacture of pyrotechnic articles. That aspect is already being dealt with in the framework of Council Directive 96/82/EC (better known as the Seveso II Directive), aimed at the prevention of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances and at the limitation of the consequences of such accidents for people and the environment.
For further information please visit:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/chemicals/legislation/explosives/index.htm


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