Single European Market
European standardization makes a fundamental contribution towards ensuring the free movement of goods and the functioning of the Single European Market.
The Single European Market enables the free movement of goods within the European Economic Area (27 EU countries and three EFTA countries) with more than 500 million citizens. A Single European Market needs European Standards.
European standardization makes a significant contribution towards ensuring the free movement of goods and the smooth functioning of the Single European Market. It has made a long-lasting contribution to the success of the economy in the Single European Market (benefiting the German economy in particular), and has also improved consumer and environmental protection and health and occupational safety.
Between 1985 and the present day it has been possible to reduce considerably the number of national standards used in the Single European Market.
For companies harmonized standards are a dependable aid to orientation, pointing the way to conformity with the relevant EU legislation. It makes for greater legal certainty by providing technical interpretation of indefinite legal concepts.
A cornerstone of the Single European Market was laid in June 1985 with the publication by the European Commission of a White Paper which included a statement to the effect that harmonization of technical standards by the elaboration of European Standards would be promoted wherever possible.
The New Approach to technical harmonization and standardization enables a division of labour between the state and private standardization.
According to the principles of the New Approach, European directives contain essential requirements relating to a specific sector. European Standards provide the technical details elaborating these essential requirements, and also technical solutions.
Use of harmonized European Standards confers presumption of conformity with the directive and facilitates any procedures associated with it. The standards remain voluntary recommendations, however. Manufacturers are free to produce goods that do not conform to the standard and are allowed to prove compliance with the directive by other means.
EU directives based on the New Approach govern the marketing of industrial products in key sectors, such as machines electrical equipment, services, medical products, measuring apparatus, protective equipment, construction products, explosives, telecommunications equipment and toys.
New Approach directives do not systematically deal with specific products in their scope but focus on diverse criteria such as technical hazards. In this way, the same problem can be dealt with in the same way for all products or for large groups of products by a single directive, but it also means that one and the same product may fall under the scope of more than one directive. In this case the product must satisfy the essential requirements of all directives that are of relevance.
By using the CE mark, manufacturers confirm the conformity of their products with the relevant EU directives and compliance with the essential requirements specified in the New Approach directives. Responsibility for applying the CE marking and carrying out the appropriate conformity testing lies with one of the following:
- the manufacturer
- his agent in the EU
- anyone placing the product on the market.
The CE mark does not denote conformity with a standard but signifies compliance with the essential requirements of the New Approach directives relevant to the product while providing unrestricted access to the Single European Market.
Private marks may also be used as performance and quality symbols, examples being the European Keymark and the DIN-Geprüft (= Tested) certification mark.