MEPs in the committee made a number of changes to the Commission’s draft directive on the sale of pyrotechnic articles, notably to ensure importers of fireworks take on the same obligations as manufacturers. National laws in this area vary widely, with different fireworks being banned in different countries. By setting minimum safety standards at EU level, the directive aims reduce the number of accidents involving fireworks (estimated by the Commission at up to 45,000 per year) and also to ensure the free circulation of pyrotechnic articles in the single market – an industry already worth € 7 billion a year. This includes items such as the mechanisms for car airbags and seatbelts as well as fireworks. MEPs in the committee unanimously adopted a first reading report from Joel Hasse Ferreira backing the plans, with certain amendments. A significant change was to insist that, since the overwhelming majority of fireworks sold in Europe are imported, mostly from China (96% in 2004), importers of fireworks should face identical obligations to ensure compliance with safety requirements as those faced by manufacturers based in Europe. Among the other amendments, the committee decided to include noise levels in the new system for categorizing fireworks, in addition to the use, purpose and hazard level – the different categories would be subject to different minimum age limits for purchase. (EP-Press)
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