24th Nov 2017

EU set to restrict rules for making and using fireworks

As Europeans prepare to light up the skies with fireworks to celebrate the new year, the EU is set in 2007 to hammer out a bill boosting security measures for various pyrotechnic materials, including setting a minimum age for their use.

The European Commission estimates around 45,000 firework-related accidents take place in the EU every year - particularly during New Year's Eve celebrations.

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  • The commission estimates there are 45,000 firework-related accidents in Europe each year (Photo: wikipedia)

The new EU directive - approved by MEPs in late November and awaiting a quick final go-ahead by member states in early 2007 - will introduce a common list of safety requirements manufactures have to meet to place their products in the bloc's internal market.

The market for pyrotechnic products, which also includes generators used in car airbags, is currently worth almost €7 billion.

Under the new rules - to come into force in 2010 for consumer fireworks and in 2013 for professional and theatre fireworks - the pyrotechnic products will have to be tested to prove their physical and chemical stability and resistance to transportation.

Consumer products will be classed in four categories according to use, purpose, hazard and noise level, with minimum age restrictions for buyers and users, ranging from the safest products for children below 12 years to products with an 18 year age minimum, plus a special category only available to persons "with specialist knowledge".

National authorities will however be allowed to increase the age limits for consumers or to lower them for trained staff.

Member states can also ban the sale of certain categories of noisy pyrotechnic articles, such as bangers or flash banger batteries.

With over 90% of fireworks imported to Europe from China, the new directive will also oblige importers to ensure that their non-EU-based supplier has met the safety measures the rules have introduced.

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