The Measuring Instruments Directive entered into force on 30 April 2004, and its application began on 30 October 2006.
After ten years of preparation and three years of processing, the Measuring Instrument Directive (MID) entered into force on 30 April 2004, when it was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Directive applies to measuring instruments that are subject to legislative requirements in most Member States. Typically, these measuring instruments are those used in trade and by authorities, such as fuel meters, taximeters, meters for water flow, gas and electrical energy as well as automatic weighing instruments used in the industry when, for example, products are packed. Even if the Directive covers a large number of measuring instruments and replaces many old directives, the Directive 2009/23/EC on non-automatic weighing instruments (so-called NAWI Directive) is still valid and has not been amended.
All Member States had to adopt the new procedures on 30 October 2006, making the Single Market finally operative. In addition, the Directive has a ten-year transition period, during which time it is possible to place on the market also measuring instruments that meet the rules that were effective before the application of the Directive, given that the type approval of the instruments is still valid. In practice, however, it is foreseen that the new requirements will be applied rather extensively relatively soon.
Measuring instruments that are subject to legal provisions are one of the last product families for which the creation of the Single Market is still underway. For some instruments, Old Approach directives and their detailed requirements still apply, but it has not been possible to revise these directives to correspond to the requirements of modern electronic measuring instruments. For this reason, with respect to these instruments, non-harmonised national provisions still apply in most cases. It is clear that this is a major inconvenience for manufacturers of measuring instruments, because a type approval, which is generally required for these instruments, must be acquired separately in each Member State into which instruments are exported. In many cases, national requirements vary from country to country and tests have to be taken again or complemented, which rises costs and delays entry into the market. Relatively small companies have experienced the most inconvenience.
Nature of the Directive
The Directive is a New Approach directive, which means that only so-called essential technical requirements of an instrument family are set out in the Directive. Demonstration of compliance is based on a global approach. Therefore, manufacturers may choose from traditional type approval and initial verification, but also from a range of alternative procedures selected on the basis of the risks associated with the particular instrument type. Arguably, the most interesting of these is the H1 module, in which the task of the notified body is to inspect the design of the instrument. In addition, the manufacturer is expected to have extensive quality assurance measures in place.
It is up to Member States to decide which instrument families are subject to requirements. The EU Parliament emphasised that, as a rule, Member States should regulate such measurements. If a Member State chooses not to regulate, it is obliged to give reasons for its decision. If requirements are set, they must be in accordance with the Directive, but no other requirements shall be set. Measures associated with scheduled inspections of measuring instruments do not fall under the scope of the Directive, even if virtually all Member States have rules to that effect.
Harmonised standards and normative documents of OIML
In the New Approach directives, a so-called presumption of conformity is created when the EN standards, the name and number of which has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, are complied with. With respect to measuring instruments covered by legislative requirements, harmonisation on a global scale began as early as 1955, when OIML (Organisation Internationale de Métrologie Légale) was established. Almost all EEC countries are members of OIML. Member States are under a moral obligation to harmonise their rules with the recommendations of OIML in order to remove technical barriers to trade. According to the interpretation of World Trade Organisation’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee (WTO/TBT), recommendations by OIML are equal to international standards.
The Measuring Instruments Directive brings harmonised documents based on the recommendations by OIML to a par with European standards. This means that the status of these documents is now the same as that of harmonised standards. Their key content consists of a list that indicates which provisions of the recommendation need to be met in order to create a presumption of conformity.
The Directive establishes a Measuring Instrument Committee that, with the support of the Commission, has the right to amend technical requirements. However, informal administrative cooperation in the interpretation of the technical annexes to the Directive and the preparation of matters for processing in the Committee takes place in the working groups of WELMEC (European Cooperation in Legal Metrology).
In Finland, the principal responsibility of the preparation of necessary legislation is on the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, with the assistance of the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) and the Advisory Committee for Metrology (MNK).
Directives repealed on 30 October 2006
The Measuring Instruments Directive replaced a number of Old Approach directives.
Directives repealed by MID on 30 October 2006:
71/318/EEC Gas volume meters
71/319/EEC Meters for liquids other than water
71/348/EEC Ancillary equipment for meters for liquids other than water
73/362/EEC Material measures of length
75/33/EEC (Certain parts of) cold-water meters
75/410/EEC Continuous totalizing weighing machines
76/891/EEC Electrical energy meters
77/313/EEC Measuring systems for liquids other than water
78/1031/EEC Automatic checkweighing and weight grading machines
79/830/EEC Hot-water meters