New EU directive should simplify electronic device manufacturing in Europe

6 January 2005

Brussels. A revised directive on electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) has been published in the Official Journal. It will greatly simplify regulatory procedures and reduce costs for manufacturers, while increasing information and documentation on products for inspection authorities.

The revised directive abolishes two cumbersome conformity assessment procedures for producers which required the mandatory involvement of an independent inspection and verification body, thus reducing costs. Manufacturers will be solely responsible for establishing the conformity of their products and for the “CE” marking.

The EMC directive governs the electromagnetic emissions of electrical and electronic equipment and their immunity to interference. It ensures for instance that a microwave oven does not interfere with radio reception, or that a radio alarm clock must not come on if a mobile phone is used nearby. The directive will come into force in the Member States within the next three years.

Mr Günter Verheugen, Commission Vice-President in charge of Enterprise and Industry, commented: “The new directive underlines that reducing the administrative burden for industry is a top priority for the new Commission.”

Apart from the simplified conformity procedures, the main elements of the revised directive are:

  • Stricter requirements concerning information and documentation. The new directive requires manufacturers or their agents to provide inspection authorities with additional means of control, such as clear identification of a product (type, serial number, etc) and indication of the name and address of the manufacturer or his agent and, if necessary, of the importer established in the territory of the European Union. This improved product traceability will make it easier for the authorities to monitor the market. By eliminating products for which it is difficult at the moment to identify the origin, competition will be on a fairer basis.
  • Special regime for fixed installations. It is harder to check the conformity of installations of this type (changes over time, alterations, difficulties in implementation). However, it is essential that they comply with the directive's protection requirements in order to limit potential interference and to create a common electromagnetic environment in the European Union.
    For instance, this regime will provide a harmonised regulatory framework for large localised systems, like a power plant, but as well for distributed systems like telecommunications or power distribution networks, which are often trans-European.
  • Compliance with new-approach concepts. Ten years of applying the Directive have demonstrated the effectiveness of the new-approach concepts in the field of electromagnetic compatibility. These principles restrict regulatory harmonisation to essential public-interest requirements and allow manufacturers to ensure the conformity of their products by applying "harmonised" standards. These standards, drawn up by European standardisation bodies, are regularly updated and make it possible to ensure a high degree of protection without amending the regulatory framework. These principles have naturally been incorporated in this Directive.

More details can be found at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/electr_equipment/emc/


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