Standards & legislation

01 May 2008

The European Union's ‘New Approach’ to legislation has proven to be an effective instrument for developing free trade by combining directives and harmonised European standards. This has been particularly true in the European construction equipment sector.

Mutually agreed voluntary standards throughout the EU bring many benefits. They contribute to better governance, stimulate business competitiveness and remove barriers to trade. However, as economies evolve, the standardisation process must advance to meet a new generation of challenges. Further liberalisation of the EU internal market, globalisation of world markets, technological developments and a reduced role for governments are all reshaping the landscape.

The European Commission's future policy on standardisation, ‘The role of European standardisation in the framework of European policies and legislation’, says there is scope for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of standards so they can better respond to the changing needs of enterprises and the evolving economic environment.

To effectively market earthmoving equipment globally means harmonising technical specifications. With this in mind an earthmoving machinery Technical Committee was set up under the auspices of the International Organisation for Standardisation – ISO/TC127 – some 35 years ago. There are currently 120 international standards for testing procedures, safety requirements, ergonomics, operation and maintenance, as well as terminology and classifications established under its framework.

Despite the application of these standards, which form the basis for international harmonisation, market access barriers remain. CECE argues only the creation of a global legislative framework, which refers to international standards, can lead to global harmonisation.

In conjunction with this, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) has developed an international model for technical harmonisation with a view to reducing global trade barriers. This UN/ECE model seeks to establish an agreement on common legal requirements (‘Common Regulatory Objectives – CROs), for particular commercial sectors that are comparable with the ‘Essential Requirements’ of the European Directives.

With the aim of creating a worldwide, uniform market for earth-moving equipment, CECE, in co-operation with Japan's Construction Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (CEMA) and the US Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), has started a pilot project – ‘CRO for Earth Moving Machinery’ – within the framework of the UN/ECE.

Experience gained to date with interested UN/ECE member states means the draft CRO contains only a few general principles. Technical specifications, in terms of safety, are still dealt with under ISO/TC127.

The European standard series EN 474 ‘Earth-moving machinery – Safety’, prepared by CEN/TC151 ‘Construction equipment and building material machines – Safety’, will be transferred into ISO 20474. It is then planned to use this coherent standard series instead of the individual ISO/TC127 standards as technical specifications in the CROs.

CECE will continue to promote the development of international standards and use of mutually recognised regulatory models, as these will give the European construction equipment manufacturing industry wider access to world markets. At the same time, the use of European standards by countries neighbouring the EU should extend market access in either direction.

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