When implementing the Directive 88/378/EEC on the safety of toys, some Member States considered children’s books as toys. This led in several cases to considerable difficulties for the European children’s book publishing industry, especially in complying with the extra requirements applied to paper and cardboard books.
In January 2008, the European Commission proposed a new Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the safety of toys, repealing the existing one. The revised Directive, entered into force in July 2009, aims to improve the quality of toy safety regulations and simplify legislation. The technical product specifications are left to the European standardisation bodies CEN and CENELEC to regulate. Among the main objectives of the updating process was the clarification of the scope and definitions of the Directive; neither the old nor the new Directive explicitly mention children’s books, but toy books are presumably covered. The application of the Directive to economic operators (such as publishers) was subject to a transitional period of 2 years, expired in July 2011.
Upon adoption of the Directive, the Commission officially charged CEN with the task of revising the standards on toy safety; the mandate contained a specific reference to books, in particular those made of paper and cardboard, which prompted CEN to create a Task Group on toy books within its Technical Committee on Toy Safety. The Task Group, which met in March 2010, April 2011 and April 2012, has proposed an amendment aimed at exempting all types of paper and cardboard from certain extra mechanical tests; the amendment is under consideration by the CEN Technical Committee on Toy Safety.
Independently from the process of revision of the Directive, the Commission issued interpretative guidelines on the classification of books in the light of the toy safety regulation, found unsatisfactory by publishers.