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C. Compliance and standards

C. Compliance and standards

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Legal compliance through standards

Standards in legislation

Standards are, by definition, of voluntary use, and therefore there is no legal obligation to apply them.


However, sometimes national legislations and regulations make reference to some standards and then they become mandatory, because of the legal requirement, not because of the standards themselves. This is a very convenient way for legislators to include valid and agreed technical requirements in regulations.

Standards are voluntary.

So why do they pop up in legislation?

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New legal framework
European directives

European directives that follow the ‘New Approach’ specify essential safety and health requirements.


Some European standards requested by the EC (harmonized standards) provide technical details on how to comply with these essential requirements.


Even if this is not the only way (it is not mandatory and other methods to comply with the directives can be used), it is the simplest way. Users of a harmonised standard can presume that they meet the essential requirements of the respective directive (presumption of conformity).

How do standards help comply with "New Approach" European directives?

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CE marking

CE marking demonstrates conformity with the essential requirements laid down in some European directives. By applying the CE mark a manufacturer declares on his/her sole responsibility that the product meets all the legal requirements and can thus be placed on the European market. Harmonized standards can in some cases detail the requirements for CE marking, according to the respective directives.

NOTE: The CE mark is not a quality mark, nor does it indicate that the product was made in Europe. As such, it is not intended for the end consumer.

How can standards help
meet CE requirements?

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Go to the next chapter:

C.2 Compliance with standards

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