Safe Products used by Consumers. What is the CE marking?

Are you a consumer? Find out what the CE marking that you see on products means!

It is reasonably certain that most of us have encountered products marked with the capital letters CE. You may however be unaware that the CE label (or “marking”) is the accreditation that the product meets the safety requirements set by the European Union so that the product can be used by European consumers.

Council Resolution 85/C 136/01 of 7 May 1985 on a new approach to technical harmonization and standards was intended to improve the situation as regards technical barriers to trade and dispel the consequent uncertainty for economic operators. The need arose therefore, to set standards with the technical characteristics that different products should meet.

Based on the Resolution, it was decided that setting standards is an important contribution to the free movement of industrial products and that this would help industrial competitiveness in both the Community market and external markets, in particular in the field of new technologies.

The European Commission has issued several Directives under the above Resolution called the New Approach Directive.

These Directives set out the basic requirements that products must meet in relation to safety, health and environmental protection, how to regulate the conformity of products with these requirements and the label they must bear, which is the CE (“Conformité Européenne”) marking.

What is the CE marking?

CE marking is an assurance from the manufacturer that the product meets all the essential requirements of the relevant European Union Product Safety Directives, thus allowing the products to move freely within the European single market.

Sometimes, the relevant European Union Directive on a product may require a Notified Body to be involved in the labelling process. In such cases the Notified Body must take part in the conformity assessment procedure and, after its approval, the marking is affixed to the product.

Regarding the placement of the marking, this is placed on the product or on the packaging in such a way that it is visible, legible and indelible.

It is noted that labelling is not necessary for all products but only for those for which a specific Directive (or Regulation) exists which makes labelling compulsory.

Finally, it is noted that, responsible for the implementation of the Directives are the relevant Member State’s Competent Authorities (the Directives are implemented in Cyprus by virtue of the Laws On The Basic Requirements which Certain Product Categories must Meet).

CE Marking in relation to Toys?

An example of a Directive concerning CE marking is that relating to the safety of toys (Directive 2009/48/EC). This Directive applies to products designed or intended solely for the use of toys by children under 14 years of age.

According to the Directive, manufacturers ensure that when toys are placed on the market, the toys are designed and manufactured in accordance with basic and specific safety requirements concerning their physical and mechanical properties, flammability, chemical properties, electrical properties, hygiene and radioactivity.

Manufacturers must also ensure that the toys they manufacture bear a type, batch, serial or model number or other element allowing their identification, or, where the size or nature of the toy does not allow it, that the required information is provided on the packaging or in a document accompanying the toy. The address indicates a single point at which the manufacturer can be contacted.

In addition, the manufacturers must ensure that the toy is accompanied by instructions and information for safe use, in a language or languages easily understood by consumers.

The Directive does not focus on manufacturers only, but it provides for specific obligations to both Importers and Distributors of toys. Pursuant to Article 16 of the Directive, toys placed on the market shall bear the CE marking before the toy is placed on the market. Where there is a marking, the toys are considered to comply with the Directive.

The CE marking is affixed visibly, legibly and indelibly to the toy, to an affixed label or to the packaging. In the case of small toys and toys consisting of small parts, the CE marking may alternatively be affixed to a label or an accompanying leaflet. Where, in the case of toys sold in counter displays, that is not technically possible, and on condition that the counter display was originally used as packaging for the toy, the CE marking may be affixed to the counter display.

Violation of the obligations mentioned above provides for the imposition of penalties on manufacturers and importers.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The publication of this article is partly funded by the European Union’s “Consumer Programme (2014-2020)”.

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