EU to tighten up product standardisation

A 20-year old approach to European product standardisation is due to undergo revision in the first half of 2006 due to shortcomings in how the voluntary rules are implemented at national level.

The so-called ‘New Approach’ to European product standardisation – the well-known CE marking found on almost every consumer good – is set to be revised after 20 years of its contribution to product safety and fuelling the success of the single market.

Shortcomings in the existing system became apparent as the standards – adopted by consensus by industrial stakeholders – were enforced at national level on a voluntary basis. Although it allowed for speed, simplicity and flexibility compared to the cumbersome EU lawmaking process, the system showed its limitations in terms of consistency when standardisation bodies applied the rules at national level.

In a November 2003 resolution, the EU Council of Ministers invited the Commission to propose measures to strengthen implementation by ensuring coherent application of rules and better co-operation between national bodies responsible for implementation.

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