Below you will find some key points of the Construction Product Regulation EU N:o (305/2011) discussed in relation to frequently asked question from the manufacturer’s point of view.
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 a 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 characteristicsf form product performance.
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)f. 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 under article 5 of the Construction Products Regulation in some special cases, introduced in the Construction Products Regulation. However, if a product is required to be shown valid, this responsibility canfnot be avoided on behalf of the Construction Products Regulation.
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.
How to CE-mark a product?
The harmonised product standard defines which actions the manufacturer needs to take in order to acquire the CE-marking. Including further information, the harmonised product standard defines the AVCP level (Assessment and verification of constancy of performance) and with that, the need to contact a notified body.
The AVCP level is given in the annex ZA of the harmonised product standard, usually in table 2. It can vary depending on the intended use of the product.
For AVCP levels 1+ or a maximum of 1, a notified body is needed to grant the product a certificate verifying constancy of performance. For AVCP level 2+, a notified body is needed to verify factory production control and to grant a certificate on verifying factory production control. Further information on the competence of notified bodies can be found in Nando, the database of notified bodies that is maintained by the European Commission. A manufacturer operating in Finland may use also a non-Finnish, foreign notified body if they are accredited for the product in question. For AVCP level 3, type testing must be carried out by a notified body (laboratory). For AVCP level 4, no external notified body is needed as the manufacturer can carry out the type testing and verify their quality control.
When the requirements of the harmonised product standard annex ZA are fulfilled, the manufacturer will prepare the Declaration of Performance and affix the CE-marking. The Declaration of Performance is always use-specific, meaning that a product with several uses may require several DoPs.
The manufacturer must keep the Declaration of Performance and related technical documents for ten years after the construction product was released on to the market.
What does the harmonised product standard annex ZA contain?
The annex ZA discusses e.g.
- The scope of the standard and product-related characteristicsf
- The appropriate way of demonstrating AVCP level and possible duties of the notified body
- CE-marking templates
The harmonised product standards and their ZA annexes currently in use were prepared during the Construction Products Directive and do not contain the requirements set in the Construction Products Regulation. Therefore they lack instructions on how to prepare the Declaration of Performance while the CE-marking templates are not fully in compliance with the Construction Products Regulation.
What does the CE-marking of a construction product mean for the manufacturer?
A detailed list of manufacturer responsibilities can be found here. From the perspective of market surveillance, the following examples are duties of the manufacturer:
- The manufacturer must give out their contact details with the construction product.
- If the manufacturer has reason to believe that the construction product does not reach the level of performance given in the Declaration of Performance, the manufacturer must carry out further testing.
- The manufacturer must process complaints, deficient products and refunds and inform distributors of them.
- The manufacturer must make sure the construction product is identifiable.
- The manufacturer must deliver instructions and product-specific safety information together with the construction product.
- If there is a construction product on the market that does not comply with its Declaration of Performance or other requirements, the manufacturer must immediately either update the product for compliance or remove the construction product from the market.
- In addition, if the construction product poses a risk, the manufacturer must report it immediately to the competent authority (in Finland, Tukes).
- Following a reasoned request from a competent national authority, the manufacturer must provide it with all the information and documentation necessary to demonstrate the conformity of the construction product.
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.
What if the CE-marking is not enabled by the product standard?
The CE-marking is voluntary if the construction product is not within the scope of the harmonised product standard and the manufacturer is unwilling to apply for the European technical assessment (ETA). The CE-marking can be acquired through the ETA procedure if it desirable for e.g. declaring product characteristics for import or domestic market.
What are the basic guidelines for CE-marking drafts?
All harmonised product standards were created during the validity of the Construction Products Directive and their instructions on drafting the CE-marking are in conflict with the Construction Products Regulation. The CE-marking is drafted as during the validity of the Construction Products Directive while keeping in mind at least the following points:
- The last two digits in the year of first affixation of the CE-marking refer to the year when the product was released onto the market for the first time with the CE-marking, meaning this year may precede year 2013.
- The number of the Declaration of Performance must be presented in such a way that the reference to the version of the Declaration of Performance is unambiguous.
- The CE-marking must contain at least such level of performance or classes that national requirements dictate to be announced.
- It is very important that the intended use of the product is expressed with the CE-marking.
What if the manufacturer is a small company or business?
In EU legislation the term micro enterprises is used to describe a company with less than 10 employees or turnover of less than 2 million euros. The Construction Products Regulation gives some leeway to micro enterprises if the AVCP level of the product is 3 or 4. For further information, see Article 37 of the Construction Products Regulation.