One of the main purposes of the “Directive of 2007 for Pyrotechnic Articles” was free movement of fireworks in all Member States.
As a progressive thinker and someone who regularly thinks along commercial lines, this sounded like a very positive development for the European market.
In many ways, the borders between our countries appear to be shrinking. Not literally, of course, but our ever-growing knowledge base continually crosses between our member states at the speed of light. Our scientists and our experts regularly share their research data with one another as well, and new markets are being recurrently created, explored and exploited.
During the development of the standards that belonged to this Directive, many experts proposed new fireworks regulations that would be considered harmonious for all countries involved. Countries just had to explain to each other, for example, why they thought a rocket with 200 grams of powder should be considered as safe as a rocket containing only 20 grams.
Southern-European experts had the additional challenge of trying to preserve things like their traditional “flash bangers” (a type of firecracker) in lieu of the black powder versions available from the North.
After countless meetings hosted in a variety of cities scattered all over Europe, and countless hours of discussion coupled by the use of reams and reams of paper, the new standards came to fruition: standard regulations (full of political compromises, naturally) for the whole of Europe. Finally, the European fireworks market was officially open!
Or was it?
After 7 years, despite the new standards, I still see many borders that have failed to open to fireworks and remain highly restrictive. I think one of the main reasons might have been overlooked during the initial discussion phase is this directive: storage. In Holland in order to store fireworks you are required to construct thick concrete walls, have iron cage packaging and to install automatic sprinkler systems in case of fire. Storage standards are very different in Germany, however. In Germany you can store your 500-gram cakes at the supermarket right next to the six-packs of Warsteiner. You can imagine how these different storage regulations effect the price of fireworks.
And then there is still Article 6.2. This article authorizes member states to take their own measurements with regard to fireworks, and states boldly: “If justified on grounds of public order, security, safety or environmental protection, Member States have the possibility to ban the sale to consumers of certain types of pyrotechnic articles.”
The object, remember, was free movement. The purpose, remember, was standardized regulation of fireworks everyone could understand and follow. Obviously, we’re not there yet.