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CE marking: is it compulsory or optional?

The compliance with the existing legislation is made compulsory by the company. However, the large number of existing laws for the different markets causes that in some cases the company may not be aware of all the responsibilities and may incur in non-compliance with the laws. This fact may have relevant implications, from penalties to ceasing operation of business extreme cases.

CE marking is compulsory in order to guarantee the performances of the products covered by the harmonized standards, bearing in mind the provisions on the intended use. In the Official Journal of the European Union you can consult their existence for a certain product. In cases where harmonized standards coexist with standards to what they replace and are still into force, CE marking is optional until the end of such coexistence.

In cases where there is no harmonized standard, it is possible to perform an optional CE marking. For that purpose, the first step is to check the existence of European Assessment Documents (EAD). If so, this involves that it is possible to develop a European Technical Assessment (ETA), previously named European Technical Approval in the repealed Directive 89/106/CEE, although with different definition and content. ETA is the documented assessment of a construction product for the manufacturer’s intended use. Such assessment is performed by determining the performance of the essential characteristics that are important for the intended use, according to the European Assessment Document concerned, on the basis of the manufacturer’s specifications, ITeC from the Regulation on.

The list of European assessment documents can be found on the European Commission website and in the information system NANDO (database of notified bodies). There is a specific webpage including the list of European Assessment Documents.

The document’s content, including its application field, can also be found in the publications area of the EOTA website. If the product belongs to the application field of some of these documents, you can request to a technical assessment body (TAB) from the official registry of TABs to assess the product for CE marking purposes. 

If the product and its intended use are not covered by any European assessment document, you can request to a technical assessment body to elaborate one for the product. This process requires more time than if there is already a European assessment document for the product.

In order to check the application field of the standards, it can be used the search tool in the website of CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation. Products operating in the application field of a standard must have the CE mark according to the dates shown in the chart. If the space for “reference of the superseded standards” is not blank, the CE marking of the products covered by this standard keeps being compulsory.

During the coexistence period, it is possible to choose the version to be used, either the withdrawn or the new, but once the coexistence period is over, it can only be applied to the revised version. This allows adapting, normally in one year, to the possible changes in the product assessment or in the declaration of performance.