There is currently a viral video spreading around on social networks of an (alleged) anti-eu protester trying to burn an EU flag but has difficulty setting it on fire because, as the post claims,

of EU directive on flammable materials

Example: https://twitter.com/FelicityMorse/status/737671953637638145

Is there actually an EU directive which says that flags sold in the EU must be made from non-flammable materials?


1 Answer 1



There are a number of different fire safety standards that might apply in this case.

Unfortunately, there is no single flammability standard for upholstery or vertical surface fabrics which has been adopted as the norm throughout the world and the plethora of different standards in force internationally reflects the different ways of approaching the whole flammability issue. A single standard has been brought in which is acceptable throughout the European Union, EN 1021 : 1994, but this only covers cigarette and match tests - nothing more rigorous - and other national tests continue to proliferate.


The flag probably falls under something like curtains, wall hangings and similar vertically hanging fabrics.


For example Europe have harmonised cigarette (EN 1021-1) and match (EN 1021-2) resistance Standards which should be understood by all members. However, there are no such Standards for higher sources of ignition. Plus use of these Standards is mostly voluntary, dependent on whether the country in question calls them up in National Regulations. As can be seen from the UK, any fire safety controls may or may not use the European Standards, but may use Standards with certain modifications embedded in National Regulations

From what I can find it looks like while minimum european fire safety standards would have applied to the flag, British standards would also have applied. (BS 5867)


Readers may also be interested in the following European standards that are applicable to curtains and drapes:

BS EN 13772:2011 – ‘Textiles and textile products – Burning behaviour – Curtains and drapes – Measurement of flame spread of vertically oriented specimens with large ignition source’

BS EN 13773:2003 – ‘Textiles and textile products – Burning behaviour – Curtains and drapes – Classification scheme’

BS EN 1101:1996 – ‘Textiles and textile products – Burning behaviour – Curtains and drapes – Detailed procedure to determine the ignitability of vertically oriented specimens (small flame)’

BS EN 1102:1996 – ‘Textiles and textile products – Burning behaviour – Curtains and drapes – Detailed procedure to determine the flame spread of vertically oriented specimens’.

So we can't say for certain that it's european regulations which led to the flag failing to burn. It could also have been British ones. On the other hand the british regulations are partly harmonized with the rest of the EU.

  • 3
    Should clarify there are no regulations specifically concerning flammability and flags.
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 2, 2016 at 18:03
  • 2
    My first thought was this: While there are no specific regulations for flags, and I think the linked British regulations for curtains wouldn't apply, I would think the market for materials for flags is so small, those materials would be produced at the same places as materials for curtains, and would automatically be produced to the same standards. No point changing production to make flag materials less flame resistant.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 3, 2016 at 21:04
  • 1
    On the other hand, flags are usually used outdoors, so the material must be much more resistant against damage through rain, wind, sunshine than the curtains at my home. So these materials would actually be different. Still, no reason not to make them flame resistant.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 3, 2016 at 21:06
  • It covers all home furnishings. This curtain thread is a dead end (pun intended).
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 10, 2016 at 9:02

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