CE Marks the Spot: Selling Construction Products in the EU
Learn about when a CE mark is required, when it's not, and exceptions to the rule
08 November 2022
When expanding into different markets around the globe, you must ensure that the products you sell meet the relevant regulatory framework of the country or region. This is true of everything from electronics to automobiles to building products. Today we're going to look at the market access requirements for building products sold in the EU, specifically the CE marking requirements.
Building and construction products sold in EU member countries must comply with the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) 305/2011, which repeals the Construction Products Directive (CPD) No 89/106/EEC. The CPR outlines harmonised rules for the marketing of construction products in the EU. The main goal is to facilitate trade in the single market by providing a common technical language to assess the performance of construction products. The CPR is not meant to define the safety of construction products or to establish safety requirements, but rather to ensure that reliable information is presented in relation to the performance of the products, so each member state can establish minimum performance testing requirements within its own building code following the rule of the CPR. The regulation ensures that reliable information is available to architects, professionals, public authorities, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and consumers, so they can compare the performance of products from different manufacturers in different countries.
CE marking is defined within the CPR: The use of CE marking standards is mandatory when they are cited in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Construction products covered by such standards must bear the CE marking to indicate that they comply with their declared performance attributes. Such products can then freely circulate within the single market. EU Member States are not allowed to require any additional marks, certificates, or testing.
However, it's important to note that in March 2022 a regulation was proposed outlining harmonized conditions for the marketing of construction products, amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 and repealing Regulation (EU) 305/2011. The proposal was made because the harmonization process can't always keep up with the demands of the market, resulting in member states applying national marks, which is in breach of the CPR.
CE marking under the CPR is linked to the assessment of the performance of a construction product and not to its conformity with product requirements. CE marking relies on a Declaration of Performance (DoP) vs. a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) as it is not about certifying compliance, just declaring performance.
As the manufacturer, affixing the CE marking to a product it means that you are assuring that the performance of the product you are selling is the same as what you are declaring and that it has been obtained using the right European technical specification.
When is CE Marking Required?
CE marking is not always required, but with more than 600 harmonized standards for building products, it's a good idea to check to see if it's required for your product.
1. If your product is covered by a harmonized standard, and the coexistence period has ended (OJEU), then CE marking is mandatory.
2. If your product is not covered by any harmonized standard, but you want to take advantage of the benefits of CE marking, you can utilize the process under the European Organisation for Technical Assessment (EOTA), which is voluntary and looks at products without standards. When going with the voluntary EOTA route, the documents that establish the requirements for CE marking are called European Assessment Documents (EADs). If your product is covered by an existing EAD, you can CE mark your product following that standard. If your product is not covered by existing EAD, you can request an EAD be developed for your product, the process for which could take 6-18 months.
If your product does not require mandatory CE marking (hEN), and you don't want to go via the voluntary EOTA/EAD route, your product will be subject to national requirements of performance declaration (using EN standards when applicable). By going through the voluntary assessment, the process is simplified.
Exceptions to CE Marking
There are some cases where even if the product and intended use are included in the scope of a harmonized standard, you, as the manufacturer, are not obliged to CE mark your product. Exceptions occur when the product is individually manufactured or custom-made for a given use or where the manufacturing of the product has to maintain traditional processes to guarantee the conservation of officially protected works (heritage / historical works etc.).
To learn more about the specific performance requirements and assessment and verification of constancy of performance (ACVP) system used for CE marking, watch our on-demand webinar: European Market Access for Building Products.