By Euro Weekly News Media • 09 March 2011 • 12:25
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THE Regional Government of Valencia has passed a decree confirming in law the lowering of the age at which children can handle fireworks. E.U. regulations stipulate as a minimum an age of 16 for such, yet as a slap in the face for the EU, and the Spanish government which sets 12 as the minimum age, the government of the Communidad Valenciana has now stated in their latest edict that children even under the age of eight are to be legally allowed to handle certain fireworks on certain occasions.
The stated grounds for this flouting of national and European laws are that this is a traditional part of life in the Valencia Region and as such supersedes any laws from outside the communidad, including Madrid and Brussels.
Now in Valencia, even children under eight years may throw firecrackers at small parties: something which is expressly prohibited the legislation passed by the Spanish government in May last year to set the minimum age at 12 years.
In a bizarre qualification of this relaxing of the laws designed to protect children and surrounding adults, Valencia have stated that “hand launched” fireworks can only be used by minors over the age of 10.
Previously the age limit was 16. Parents will be “responsible for launching the fireworks from their children under 10”. And Valencian legislation expressly states that parents “should allow their minor children to use the material and show that sufficient training available to avoid accidents “.
Youngsters therefore can legally shoot what are euphemistically termed “very low hazard products”, such as flares, firecrackers and small bomblets from the age of 8, while after 10 years they progress to flying or “hand launched” fireworks. This seems not so much reassuring as perhaps insane.
The Valencian government has changed the national and European legislation in a decree which they state recognizes the “religious, cultural and traditional festive events of the Valencian Community, that make use of pyrotechnics (in this particular instance expressly referring to the Fallas, the Bonfires San Juan fiestas, the fiestas de la Magdalena de Castellón, the festivals of Moros y Cristianos), ensuring these are excluded from EU legislation on fireworks.”
The Communidad laws distinguish between different types of fireworks festivities, and impose complicated differing regulations on each. The result will be the same. No laws will be enforced and accidents will continue to happen, killing and maiming children and adults in the name of tradition and independence of an autonomous region.
One that has happily accepted national and European funding when it suits it, and yet chooses to ignore the awkward realities of such relationships by accepting that it too has a role and duty to perform within the rules, and not ignore inconvenient regulations.
Seeing small communities descend into anarchy of the fiestas and penas on a yearly basis, with unattended small children at night, loose on the roads, throwing fireworks at pedestrians and passing cars alike, without the slightest hint of parental or police presence, cannot possibly pass for a tradition that any sane politician would defend, in Valencia or otherwise.
By Paul Deed
Picture Credit: SJ photography
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