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Brussels, 30 September 2010

Free movement of goods: Commission requests Austria and Portugal to comply with EU rules on units of measurement

The European Commission has today decided to request Austria and Portugal to fully comply with EU rules on units of measurement (Directive 2009/3/EC). The two countries have as yet not informed the Commission on the how these EU laws will be applied in their territories. The requests take the form of reasoned opinions under EU infringement procedures. If the Member States concerned do not inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure full compliance with their obligations under the Directive, the Commission may decide to refer them to the EU's Court of Justice.

The revised Directive protects consumers by ensuring that units of measurements are understood throughout the EU while allowing for the use of other units of measurement that have a local character. This allows for the continued use of current practice and for the continuing flexibility as regards non-metric units when no metric units exist, e.g. binary measurements in computing (bits, bytes). It also introduces the new harmonised SI unit for catalytic activity (the “katal”), in order to ensure a coherent and uniform indication of units of measurement in the fields of medicine and biochemistry, removing any risk of misunderstanding arising from the use of non-harmonised units. The local nature and impact of these exemptions are taken into account through the principle of subsidiarity.

Member States had to adopt and publish the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with Directive 2009/3/EC by 31 December 2009 and apply them as from 1 January 2010.

The failure of Austria and Portugal to implement this Directive can give rise to legal uncertainty for traders selling goods in these two Member States and to confusion for consumers.

More information on the above Directive:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/10/457.

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