Court rules against Germany

By Sandy Guthrie31 October 2014

The European Court of Justice has decided that there is a breach of the European rules on the free movement of goods from Germany and its requirements that construction products must have additional national marks or approvals.

Germany has been demanding this, despite the fact that products already have a CE-mark and are legally marketed in other Member States.

The European Commission welcomed the decision, saying that it represented a significant step forwards for the consolidation of the Internal Market for construction products. It said the Commission services would work closely with the German authorities to address effectively the needs brought about by the Court judgement.

Under the newly-adopted Construction Products Regulation (305/2011/EU), Member States are able to establish performance requirements for construction products, but on condition that Member States do not impede the free movement of CE-marked products. The proper functioning of these is ensured by harmonised European standards.

There is a common technical language for expressing and defining the performance of construction products. The Commission said that if Member States required products covered by a harmonised standard to undergo additional testing, in spite of having been CE-marked, it created barriers to trade within the Single Market.

It said that before the Commission decided to refer Germany to the Court, there were extensive exchanges of information between the Commission and Germany, in which the German authorities acknowledged the use of and reliance on the national system of Bauregellisten, necessitating Ü marks for certain construction products.

This national system requires construction products that are already CE-marked to undergo additional testing and acquire national approval, before they can be marketed in Germany.

The Commission said it had received numerous complaints from manufacturers and importers of construction products, who have had difficulties selling their products on the German market.

This case focused on construction products covered by certain harmonised European standards, which the Commission said included doors, gates and thermal insulation products in particular.

However, as the Commission had been receiving a large number of similar complaints regarding the German treatment of products covered by several other harmonised standards, the judgement of the Court impacts on the whole German system of Bauregellisten.

The Commission said that the construction products sector – including more than 40 families of products such as doors, thermal insulating products, cement, roofing products and bricks – was less open than other sectors of manufactured goods.

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