Describes standards, identifies the national standards, accreditation bodies, and lists the national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.
Products tested and certified in the United States to American standards are likely to have to be retested and re-certified to EU requirements as a result of the EU’s different approach to the protection of the health and safety of consumers and the environment. Where products are not regulated by specific EU technical legislation, they are always subject to the EU’s General Product Safety Directive as well as to possible additional national requirements.
European Union legislation and standards created under the New Approach are harmonized across the member states and European Economic Area countries in order to allow for the free flow of goods. The New Approach is superseded by the New Legislative Framework (NLF) of 2010 which was put in place to serve as a blueprint for existing and future CE marking legislation.
While harmonization of EU legislation can facilitate access to the EU Single Market, manufacturers should be aware that regulations (mandatory) and technical standards (voluntary) might also function as barriers to trade if U.S. standards are different from those of the European Union.
Testing, Inspection and Certification
To sell products in the EU market as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland, U.S. exporters are required to apply CE marking whenever their product is covered by specific product legislation. CE marking product legislation offers manufacturers various choices and requires decisions to determine which safety/health concerns need to be addressed, which conformity assessment module is best suited to the manufacturing process, and whether to use EU-wide harmonized standards. There is no easy way for U.S. exporters to understand and go through the process of CE marking, but hopefully this section provides some background and clarification.
Products manufactured to standards adopted by the three officially recognized European Standardization Organizations (CEN, CENELEC or ETSI) and referenced in the Official Journal as harmonized standards, are presumed to conform to the requirements of EU Directives. The manufacturer then applies the CE marking and issues a declaration of conformity. With these, the product will be allowed to circulate freely within the EU. A manufacturer can choose not to use the harmonized EU standards, but then must demonstrate that the product meets the essential safety and performance requirements. Trade barriers occur when design, rather than performance, standards are developed by the relevant European standardization organization and when U.S. companies do not have access to the standardization process through a European presence.
The CE marking addresses itself primarily to the national control authorities of the member states, and its use simplifies the task of essential market surveillance of regulated products. As market surveillance was found lacking, the EU adopted the New Legislative Framework, which went into force in 2010. As previously mentioned, this framework is like a blueprint for all CE marking legislation, harmonizing definitions, responsibilities, European accreditation, and market surveillance.
The CE marking is not intended to include detailed technical information on the product, but there must be enough information to enable the inspector to trace the product back to the manufacturer or the local contact established in the EU. This detailed information should not appear next to the CE marking, but rather on the declaration of conformity (which the manufacturer or authorized agent must be able to provide at any time, together with the product’s technical file), or documents accompanying the product.
Publication of Technical Regulations
Use ePing to review proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures.
The ePing SPS&TBT platform (https://epingalert.org/), or “ePing”, provides access to notifications made by WTO Members under the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), distributed by the WTO from January 16, 1995 to present. ePing is available to all stakeholders free of charge and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive customized e-mail alerts. Use it to browse notifications on past as well as new draft and updated product regulations, food safety and animal and plant health standards and regulations, find information on trade concerns discussed in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees, locate information on SPS/TBT Enquiry Points and notification authorities, and to follow and review current and past notifications concerning regulatory actions on products, packaging, labeling, food safety and animal and plant health measures in markets of interest.
Notify U.S., operated and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2003 to distribute and provide access to notifications (and associated draft texts) made under the WTO TBT Agreement for US stakeholders, has reached its end of life. Per obligation under the TBT Agreement, each WTO Member operates a national TBT (and an SPS) Enquiry Point. National TBT Enquiry Points are authorized to accept comments and official communications from other national TBT Enquiry Points, which are NOT part of the WTO or the WTO Secretariat. All comment submissions from U.S. stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, U.S domiciled standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies, consumers, or U.S. government agencies on notifications to the WTO TBT Committee should be sent directly to the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point. Refer to the comment guidance at https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/guidance/guidance.cfm for further information.