On the road

24 April 2008

The Legal And Technical Requirements for driving construction equipment on public roads in the EU are governed by individual Member States. This means that, despite harmonised standards for every other significant technical aspect of machine design, equipment manufacturers still have to produce specific regional variants of machines. This adds cost and inefficiency to the industry and undermines the internal European market.

A study financed by the European Commission has proved the economic benefit that harmonising road regulations would bring in Europe. But while such internal market laws exist for other types of vehicle, European legislators are reluctant to fill this obvious legal gap for construction equipment.

CECE, along with agricultural machinery and lifting equipment associations, has campaigned for many years in favour of an EU Directive to harmonise off-highway equipment roading regulations in Europe. All these trade associations believe development of a directive is essential to close this final trade barrier at the pan-European level.

Unfortunately there is some reluctance from the European Commission to take this approach and there is also resistance from some EU Member States. As an alternative, CECE is currently developing a European technical standard under the auspices of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) as a route towards harmonisation.

The CECE Road Project Team (PT) has met several times to develop a summary/comparison chart of the existing national requirements for different types of machinery. From this the Road PT will identify the most appropriate requirements from which to develop a CEN standard. The team completed the proposal for the standard last year, which was accepted by CEN Technical Committee 151 by Resolution 361. CECE believes that when complete, the standard will strengthen its argument when lobbying for a Directive.

A CEN standard will present common requirements and will be intended for application in all Member States, meaning conflicting national standards would need to be withdrawn. Due to incompatible or inappropriate national requirements, CECE anticipates that it will not be to the complete satisfaction of transport ministries in all 25 Member States.

A-Deviations

However, national requirements can be accommodated. CEN rules include provisions to resolve such conflicts of national and European standards. These provisions are called 'Adeviations'f and there are guidelines for their use;

•When it is impossible to avoid A-deviations, all relevant information concerning them, including clear identification of the national regulations concerned and of the clauses of the standard in conflict with these regulations, must be included in an annex of the EN;CECE believes that when complete, the standard will strengthen its argument when lobbying for a Directive.•A-deviations are based only on conflicting national regulations and are not a privilege granted to a CEN member they reflect a national problem with national regulations. The notification of a possible A-deviation should contain;•A critical examination of the national situation in regard to the legal requirements of their national regulations;•A copy of the relevant part(s) of the national regulation; •The work item(s) affected by the notification; •The clauses of the draft concerned by this notification of A-deviation.

The notification process for Adeviations could avoid some pseudo requirements being raised. It may also help reduce the development of new regulations that are in conflict with the standard. However, if the standard can be achieved without A-deviations it will harmonise technical requirements.

Circulation of the working draft is due to be completed at the end of April 2006, with the enquiry draft available from the end of October this year. A formal vote on adoption of the standard is expected in February 2008 for publication in mid to late 2008.

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