European Commission - Press release
Free movement of goods: Commission requests Germany to remove barriers to trade of construction products
Brussels, 16 June 2011- The European Commission has requested that Germany change current rules and practices (Bauregellisten) concerning construction products, which today impose additional requirements for products covered by European harmonised standards, and bearing the CE marking. Such additional requirements are in breach of EU Single Market rules.
The Commission's request takes the form of an additional reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures and aims at facilitating the free trade of construction products throughout the EU's Single Market.
The German authorities often demand ex-ante approval and further additional certifications, such as the German Ü mark (“Ü-Zeichen”), for construction products, which have already proven to satisfy all applicable requirements via the CE marking. As a result, construction products with the CE marking from other Member States are often denied access to the German market. In addition, the German legislation in question is not updated frequently enough to provide manufacturers with sufficient legal certainty in relation to the applicable requirements for construction products.
This case is being dealt together with another similar case going back to 2004. In 2007, further to discussions between the Commission services and the German authorities, certain solutions were proposed to some aspects. In particular, a procedure was suggested giving Member States the possibility to request that a European harmonised standard, before being published, includes methods for assessing all of the essential characteristics of a product as required by national regulations, thus without resorting to the heavy formal objection procedure of Article 5(1) of the Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC). This is an easy way of ensuring that harmonised standards cover all regulatory needs of the Member State and therefore of avoiding situations where Member States demand that a product from another country has to fulfil additional requirements.
However, some additional requirements imposed in Germany in relation to construction products already bearing the CE marking still infringe the Construction Products Directive. A reasoned opinion (covering both cases 2004/5116 and 2005/4743) was sent on 17/10/2008 requesting Germany to amend its practices and legislation to comply de jure and de facto with EU law. However, Germany continues to fail to do so.
The additional reasoned opinion now sent by the Commission indicates clearly why Germany has to amend its legislation and practices concerning harmonized standards for construction products.
European harmonised standards provide the methods and the criteria for assessing the performance of the construction products in relation to their essential characteristics, with a view to removing technical barriers to trade in construction products.
For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/408