European Community law on the supply of new products

The UK has left the EU, and some rules and procedures have changed from 1 January 2021.

Find out more

A number of European Directives and Regulations have been adopted by the European Union with the aim of setting common minimum objectives for the harmonisation of technical rules, primarily but not exclusively, affecting the health and safety of new products by design and construction. All businesses wishing to place goods on the single European market must meet all of the relevant European product law applicable to the particular product, which in most cases includes the requirement for CE marking in the prescribed form:
CE Marking grid image
Brief details of some of the key European legislation concerned with the design, construction and supply of products when placed on the EEA market are provided here, together with links to the legislation and relevant guidance.

In addition to the Blue Guide published by the European Commission, a shorter product safety guide for UK business has been prepared to summarise the main aspects of this European product safety legislation. Where products are not covered by EU legislation (eg fairground machinery) businesses should seek advice on the National rules that may apply in any particular member state from the relevant authorities in that country.

Machinery

Most new machinery is covered by the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC (as amended in relation to machinery for applying pesticides by 2009/127/EC). The exceptions are listed at Annex 1 of the Directive (eg certain electrical equipment, etc), or where other EU legislation cover the machinery in question instead of the Machinery Directive. These other legislation include:

The scope of the Machinery Directive includes 'machinery' in the strict sense and other products which are treated in the same way for conformity assessment as machinery: that is must be CE marked, and be accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity and Instructions when first placed on the market (or first put into service if not placed on the market). These other products (as defined by Article 2) are:

'Partly complete machinery' (as defined by Article 2g) are also in scope of the Machinery Directive although are subject to a different conformity assessment procedure: they must not be CE marked under the Machinery Directive (although may be under other applicable Directives) and must be accompanied by a Declaration of incorporation and Assembly Instructions.

Some products which are machinery (in both the strict and general sense as explained above) may also be covered by other product legislation in addition to the Machinery Directive, including:

A fuller explanation of the interfaces and overlaps between the machinery and other Directives is given at paragraphs 89-92 of the European Commission guide to the application of the Machinery Directive.

Electrical equipment

The Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU (LVD) applies to most electrical equipment designed for use with a voltage rating of between 50 and 1000 volts for alternating current and between 75 and 1500 volts for direct current, other than the equipment and phenomena listed in its Annex II, largely because they are covered by other Directives and international agreements. The excluded items and phenomena are:

The safety objectives listed in Annex I of the LVD cover electrical hazards and information requirements, and include the protection of persons, domestic animals and property from non-electrical dangers caused by electrical equipment (the LVD is a total safety Directive). Although the LVD does not apply to most machinery, the safety objectives of the LVD are called up by EHSR 1.5.1 of the Machinery Directive.

CE marking of electrical equipment in scope is required, although it may exceptionally be attached to the packaging or included with the other information accompanying the product (eg where it may not be possible to legibly mark very small components). Although a Declaration of Conformity must be drawn up and kept by the manufacturer with the technical documentation, there is no requirement for it to be provided with the product.

The Low Voltage Directive imposes detailed and explicit obligations on all economic operators: manufacturers (and their authorised representatives), importers placing goods on the market from a third country, and distributors (who may be deemed manufacturers where rebranding goods made by another).

Equipment for use in explosive atmospheres

Directive 2014/34/EU (ATEX) concerns equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. Safety devices, controlling devices and regulating devices intended for use outside potentially explosive atmospheres but required for or contributing to the safe functioning of equipment and protective systems with respect to the risks of explosion are also covered by this Directive. Equipment in scope may be of electrical and / or mechanical nature.

ATEX may apply in addition to other Directives, such as the Low Voltage and Machinery Directives (eg controlling devices under ATEX may also be electrical equipment, and a machine may include a protective system within scope of ATEX).

Certain equipment is excluded from scope of ATEX, including:

In addition to CE marking ATEX requires the specific explosion protection mark on products within scope.

Lifts

The Lifts Directive 2014/33/EU applies to most goods and passenger lifts, but some products which lift people and goods are not covered (eg escalators and mechanical walkways where the Machinery Directive applies, and cableway installations designed to carry people where the Cableways Regulation applies).

Clarification of which products are in scope of the Lifts Directive was given in 2009 by an amendment made by Article 24 of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Some products which were previously in scope of the Lifts Directive are no longer (eg constructions hoists, these are now in scope of the Machinery Directive).

The Lifts Directive does not apply to:

Where a relevant hazard exists on products in scope which is not covered by the essential health and safety requirements (EHSRs) of the Lifts Directive the EHSRs of the Machinery Directive are called up by the Preliminary Remarks at 1.1 of Annex I of Directive 2014/33/EU.

Pressure equipment and vessels

Directives 2014/68/EU and 2014//29/EU cover pressure equipment in general and also simple pressure vessels. They are primarily concerned with the hazards from energy stored in the equipment within scope. Machinery and other equipment may incorporate pressure equipment within scope of these Directives in which case these Directives and their provisions may apply alongside other Directives relevant to the product (eg the Machinery Directive).

Gas appliances

Regulation EU/2016/426 concerns appliances burning gaseous fuels used for cooking, heating, hot water production, refrigeration, lighting or washing and having, where applicable, a normal water temperature not exceeding 1050C. Forced draught burners and heating bodies equipped with such burners are also considered as appliances in scope, as too are safety devices, controlling devices or regulating devices and subassemblies. However, appliances specifically designed for use in industrial processes carried out on industrial premises are excluded from scope.

Cableways

Regulation EU/2016/424 relates to cableway installations designed to carry persons and covers funicular railways and other installations with vehicles on wheels or on other suspension devices where traction is provided by one or more cables, cable cars where the cabins are lifted and / or displaced by one or more carrier cables (including gondolas and chair lifts), and drag lifts, where users with appropriate equipment are dragged by means of a cable. It also applies to subsystems and safety components of such installations.

This Regulation does not apply to:

Explosives and pyrotechnic articles

Directives 2014/28/EU and 2013/29/EU concern certain explosives and pyrotechnic articles.

Electromagnetic compatibility

The Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive 2014/30/EU (EMC) will apply to much equipment with an electrical aspect, primarily to prevent interference with other electrical equipment and its own immunity from such disturbance. It applies alongside other Directives (eg Machinery and Low Voltage), although in some cases the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) applies instead of EMC, the EMC requirements becoming part of RED.

Medical devices

Medical devices in scope of the Medical Devices Regulation EU/2017/745 (and the previous Directive 93/42/EC, as amended by 2007/47/EC) are covered by this legislation. Where a medical device is also a machine the relevant machinery essential health and safety requirements (EHSRs) are called into scope.

Personal protective equipment

Regulation 2016/425/EU is concerned with the basic safety requirements which personal protective equipment (PPE) must satisfy in order to ensure the health protection and safety of users. There are some exclusions including PPE specifically for use by the armed forces, for self-defence, for private use protecting against adverse weather conditions, and helmets / visors for two- and three-wheeled motor vehicles.

Construction products

EU Regulation No. 305/2011[20] , which replaced the earlier Construction Products Directive, harmonises the conditions for the marketing of construction products in scope. It requires reliable information to be available on construction products in relation to their performance, and CE marking.

Construction products within scope are essentially any product or kit which is produced and placed on the market for incorporation in a permanent manner in construction works or parts thereof and the performance of which has an effect on the performance of the construction works with respect to the basic requirements for construction works. Some construction products (eg powered doors and windows within the scope of EN 13241-1, the product standard for Industrial, commercial and garage doors and gates) may also be machinery within scope of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

Radio equipment

Directive 2014/53/EU concerns radio equipment. Where electrical equipment in scope of the Low Voltage and/or Electromagnetic Compatibility Directives incorporates radio equipment as defined by Directive 2014/53/EU, the provisions of the Low Voltage and Electromagnetic Compatibility Directives do not apply separately to that equipment, but are subsumed by the Radio Equipment Directive (which has no voltage limitations).

Noise emissions by equipment for use outdoors

Directive 2000/14/EC is concerned with noise emission by equipment used outdoors (which may include machinery subject to the Machinery Directive).

Emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants by non-road mobile machinery

EU Regulation 2016/1628 is concerned with the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants by non-road mobile machinery (which may include machinery subject to the Machinery Directive).

Restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment

Directive 2017/2102/EU is concerned with the use of certain hazardous substances (lead, cadmium, etc) in electrical and electronic equipment.

Directive 2009/125/EC is concerned with the performance of any products that have an impact on energy consumption during use (excluding means of transport for people and goods).

Toys

Directive 2009/48/EC concerns the safety of toys. Where a toy is a machine the Toy Safety Directive applies instead of the Machinery Directive. If a toy incorporates radio equipment the Radio Equipment Directive (which also covers electrical safety and electromagnetic compatibility) will also apply.

General product safety

The General Products Safety Directive (GPSD) 2001/95/EC covers all products intended for or likely to be used by consumers, where there are no other specific provisions in Community law with the same objectives for safety.

Updated: 2021-01-15