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Incorrect CE Marking and manufacturer responsibility

Steve Hayes EMC Expert
By Engaged Expert Steve Hayes Product Qualification Testing

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CE Marking is mandatory for a wide variety of products including all electrical / electronic devices, allowing manufacturers to import and export their products freely within the European Union, with common product design and manufacturing requirements defined within EU Directives

By placing the mandatory conformity mark on a product, manufacturers (or if outside of the EU, the importer or authorised representative) are providing a clear indication that it meets all the relevant requirements and should therefore enjoy free movement between all 28 Member states. 

Problems with the CE Mark

In recent years, however, Europe has seen an increasing number of goods incorrectly marked with the CE Mark flooding the market from foreign countries. The reasons for this have been three-fold:

  • Firstly, there has been much confusion around the CE Mark itself with similar marks from China often confusing consumers and being mistaken for the genuine CE Mark. 
  • Secondly, the CE Mark has been illegitimately placed on products which do not require the Mark, giving consumers the false impression that the product is one of quality. 
  • Thirdly, the CE Mark does not represent a product having undergone safety testing but rather a self-declaration mark from the manufacturer to allow the product’s free movement across Europe. The CE Mark’s aim is to provide a clear indication that a product meets the requirements of relevant CE marking directives and therefore should not be stopped at Member State borders. 
Who is responsible?

Under CE Marking, manufacturers are responsible for undertaking a full risk analysis, complying with essential requirements and ensuring that they can provide evidence of having done so. If a harmonized standard applies to the product, the manufacturers have a duty to apply it. An additional duty the manufacturer will also now have is to determine if the standard is fully adequate for the product and its environment, or if the product requires further safety testing before being placed on the open market.

Whilst the vast majority of EU manufacturers are very thorough in ensuring they invest in meeting these standards, there has been criticism that manufacturers from a small number of EU member states have not been so rigorous. This has allowed cheaper, potentially unsafe products to enter the market. 

Achieving CE compliance

Reassuringly, market surveillance authorities across the EU are addressing this issue with more active policing of CE Marking. This will ensure a more level playing field for manufacturers across the whole of the EU and will make sure that the CE Mark retains its status as a mark in which trust can be placed. 

Achieving CE compliance can be a complex process due to the requirements of individual directives, particularly when combinations of directives apply simultaneously. As a Notified Body for the key EU product safety and communications directives, Element is able to provide expert help and guidance to support products through the relevant testing process. 

For advice on CE Marking a device, please contact us or call UK +44 808 234 1667 or US +1 888 786 7555.

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