Associations’ fears about product regulations

By Sandy Guthrie28 April 2016

European standardisation and market surveillance is at risk of going off track, according to manufacturers’ and contractors’ associations, who are looking to highlight the measures in the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) that should be improved.

Construction Products Europe and FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation) are voicing concerns over the CPR, which lays down harmonised rules for the marketing of construction products in the European Union.

The members of Construction Products Europe manufacture components that members of FIEC – representing micro, small, medium and large contractors – install, and they defend the interests of the sectors in the construction value chain.

These two interdependent sectors and the two European associations that represent them have joined forces to point out those aspects of the CPR that they say should be improved for the benefit of both sectors.

Both associations said they supported an open and transparent European standardisation system that involved all concerned parties. They said they welcomed European measures that created a level playing field and ensured that the right product was used in the right circumstances in buildings and infrastructure.

On the other hand, they felt the CPR was influencing the development of standards in a way that neither of these goals was achieved.

Kjetil Tonning, vice president of FIEC and president of its technical commission, said “Neither CE marking nor the Declaration of Performance tell a contractor whether he has the right product for the job in hand.

“Merely knowing that the product can be sold in the EU does not guarantee its fitness for the contractually-agreed purpose for every construction project. For this reason, the CPR and CE marking have proved to be totally irrelevant to contractors in practice.”

The two associations said that harmonised European standards should allow users to obtain information they need to select the right product in terms of technical characteristics and performance.

Construction Products Europe president Heimo Scheuch said, “Although the CPR has been an important catalyst for the development of European product standards, it has strongly influenced the standardisation process for construction products, and we would like to see a more flexible system that allows manufacturers to provide additional voluntary information, such as that which is required by our customers, the contractors and other users.”

In spite of the fact that the legal instrument governing the placing of construction products on the market is a regulation, with direct effect in the Member States, both EU associations are concerned that the actual implementation is not consistent and there appears to be wide interpretation of the CPR.

In addition, they said that although welcome in principle, the European Commission’s guidance – in the form of Frequently Asked Questions, among other things – had an unclear legal status and was exacerbating the confusion.

They added that to make matters worse, the surveillance authorities in Member States lacked resources and were unable to meet the demands of their tasks.

FIEC and CPE have produced a position paper on the European product standards and their relationship to regulation.

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