EC demands removal of trade barriers by Germany

Category: International Trade Sub-category: Globalisation
Document type: news

23-Jun-2011 | 15:06 IST | Edited by: Vishal Bagaria

In an effort to undergo trade liberalisation, the European Commission has persuaded Germany to do away with the additional certification requirements that are imposed upon construction products sold in the country, claiming it to be a violation of the provisions of European Union Single Market rules.

In spite of the fact that they have already been approved for the market under the Europe-wide CE marking system, German trade authorities required additional approvals and certifications, like the German Ü mark (Ü-Zeichen), for construction products.

CE MarkA CE mark is a mandatory conformance certificate for many products in the market in the European Economic Area (EEA). A standard criteria needs to be maintained for performance assessment of essential features of construction products, for which these rules are expected to remove the technical barriers to trade.

"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," the Commission stated.

A notice of "reasoned opinion" has been dispatched to the German authorities, in light of the commencement of infringement procedures against them by the EC, appealing them to revise their rules and practices.

Earlier, in 2007, harmonised product standards were introduced by the EU, which aimed to assure that the regulatory needs of all Member States were met under the CE certification. It was done to avoid circumstances, where individual countries would demand that an import had to fulfill further certification requirements. However, Germany continued to charge some extra requirements in relation to construction products' quality, brand etc. Hence, in October 2008, the first "reasoned opinion" to Germany was dispatched by the EU, requesting the authorities to revise its legislation in this matter.

"However, Germany continues to fail to do so," the Commission said, adding that its second request "indicates clearly why Germany has to amend its legislation and practices concerning harmonised standards for construction products."

A reasonable financial penalty could be imposed on Germany for noncompliance of the EU provisions.

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CE marking (also known as CE mark) is a mandatory conformance mark on many products placed on the market in the European Economic Area (EEA). With the CE marking on a product the manufacturer ensures that the product is in conformity with the essential requirements of the applicable EC directives. The letters "CE" stand for "Conformité Européenne" ("European Conformity")

Technical barriers to trade (TBTs), a category of nontariff barriers to trade, are the widely divergent measures that countries use to regulate markets, protect their consumers, or preserve their natural resources (among other objectives), but they also can be used (or perceived by foreign countries) to discriminate against imports in order to protect domestic industries.