What does the Construction Products Regulation mean for the importer?

 

Below you will find some key points of the Construction Product Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 discussed in relation to frequently asked questfions from the importer’s point of view.

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The Construction Products Regulation defines ‘importer’ as any natfural or legal person established within the Union, who places a construction product from a third country on the Union market. The party that imports the product to Finland from elsewhere within the European union is the distributor. For additional information on distrubutors, please see the English version of Tukes website on distributor’s responsibilities.

 

What is the purpose of the CE-marking?

The purpose of the CE-marking is to improve mobility of construction products within the European economic area.

 

What does the CE-marking stand for?

By affixing the CE-marking on the construction product the manufacturer states that the product characteristics are declared as required by harmonised product standard (hEN) or European technical approval or assessment.

 

The CE-marking is a consistent way of declaring product performance. When construction product characteristics are measured, classified and declared the same way with similar products, it is easier to compare construction product characteristics to the requirements. Together, these characteristics form product performance.f

 

What are the benefits of the CE-marking?

The CE-marking enables a uniform comparison between product characteristic values declared by the manufacturer and characteristic requirements set for a product at the construction project.f Requirements set for a product come from construction site planning solutions that must fulfil the requirements of national construction legislation.

 

With the help of the CE-marking, designer and construction product purchaser find it easier to estimate the compatibility of a construction product and construction site. The marking makes comparing construction products with one another easier, as well.

 

Therefore, the CE-marking itself does not guarantee that the product complies with any national requirements.

 

Which products require a CE-marking?

A construction product must be CE-marked when it belongs within the scope of application of a harmonised standard (hEN) after the transition period or when the manufacturer has applied and been granted European technical assessment (ETA) for the product. Other construction products must not be CE-marked under the Construction Products Regulation.  For harmonised product standards and their transition periods, please refer to hEN-helpdesk.

 

If the harmonised product standard does not allow CE-marking, the manufacturer has the option of acquiring the CE-marking (for declaring product characteristics for export or domestic markets, for example) after the European technical assessment (ETA). This so called ETA procedure is introduced in more detail at the Ministry of the Environment website.

 

The responsibility to acquire the CE-marking may be relaxed following article 5 of the Construction Products Regulation in some special cases, introduced in the Construction Products Regulation. Naturally, this does not mean exemption from national requirements on construction products and attestation of their validity if such is demanded.

 

What does transition period mean in regard to harmonised standard?

The harmonised product standard includes the annex ZA, and information on the approval and transition period of the standard is published in the Official Journal of the European union. The hEN-helpdesk has information on each standard and transition period of each version. Usually the transition spans one year, although there are some exceptions. As long as transition is on-going, CE-marking is voluntary.

 

Even if the transition period of the newest version of the harmonised product standard was on-going, the transition may have ended for the previous version. Therefore, CE-marking is obligatory even in such cases.

 

What does the CE-marking mean for the importer?

The importer must make sure the product manufacturer has fulfilled their responsibilities, such as:

  • The CE-marking and Declaration of Performance are as required.
  • The manufacturer has acquired the certificate of constancy of performance or certificate of conformity of factory production control, if the harmonized technical specification requires it.
  • The products is equipped with a type-, batch- or lot number or other product identification number that enables the product to be identified.

 

A detailed list of importer responsibilities can be found here. From the perspective of market surveillance, the following examples are duties of the importer:

  • Importers shall place on the Union market only construction products that are compliant with the applicable requirements of the Construction Products Regulation.
  • The importer must not import the product if they have the reason to believe that the performance of the construction product does not agree with the declared performance or if the product is otherwise nonconforming.
  • In addition, if the construction product poses a risk, the importer must report it immediately to both the manufacturer and the the competent authority carrying out market surveillance (in Finland, Tukes).
  • The importer must give out their contact details with the construction product.
  • The importer must make sure the construction product comes equipped with instructions and product-specific safety information.
  • If the importer suspects the construction product not to fulfil the set requirements, the importer must test the product.
  • The importer must process complaints, deficient products and refunds and inform distributors of them.
  • Conditions during storage or transport cannot pose a risk to the conformity of the construction product.
  • The importers must keep the Declaration of Performance at the disposal of the market surveillance authority and deliver the technical documents to the supervising authority upon request.
  • Following a reasoned request from a competent national authority, the importer must provide it with all the information and documentation necessary to demonstrate the conformity of the construction product.

 

How does liability change if the importer markets the product with their own name or brand?

The importer is regarded as the manufacturer and manufacturer responsibilities rest on the importer.

 

What if the importer makes changes to the construction product already available on the market in such a way that it may affect the product’s conformity with the DoP?

The importer is regarded as the manufacturer and manufacturer responsibilities rest on the importer.

 

What if the manufacturer is unwilling to CE-mark the construction product?

If the product has a harmonised standard for which the transitional period has ceased, then CE-marking is compulsory. Therefore a construction product that is released onto the market after 1 July 2013 without a CE-marking is against the Regulation.

 

Article 5 of the Construction Products Regulation defines specific circumstances for relaxing the responsibility to acquire the CE-marking. Naturally, this does not mean exemption from national requirements on construction products and attestation of their validity if such is demanded.