The present article is meant to clarify the intent and purpose of the CE Marking and the EAC Marking. For improved clarity, the text will be structured into two parts. The first part covers the basics of the CE Marking, the second one the basics of the EAC Marking. Afterwards, the respective features and differences are outlined without losing focus of the similarities.
Basics on the "New Approach" and the "Overall Concept"
The New Approach was decided on May 7, 1985 and concerns the technical harmonization and standardization of products in the European Union. Therefore, the previous approach to harmonizaiton ("Old Approach") was cancelled. The downside of the "Old Approach" was mainly the fact that national authorities developed the technical provisions themselves and went into too much detail, which can mostly be traced back to a lack of trust between states. This development even lead to authorities in some areas issuing certificates of conformity themselves. The basic idea of the New Approach was to harmonize trade regulations and to remove trade barriers within the European Single Market. Additionally, the "Overall Concept" for the EU-Conformity Assessment was decided on. The two concepts both serve the same purpose of harmonization and can be seen as complementary.
Ever since 1987, more than 20 guidelines have been passed, forming the legal foundation of the "New Approach" and the "Overall Concept". The "CE-Marking (Conformité Européenne) certifies the conformity of a product with the basic requirements of the european regulations according to the New Approach. The CE-Marking is mandatory for a product to be brought into circulation in all states of the European Economic Area. The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of all EU-states and all EFTA-states except for Switzerland. To find out whether or not a CE-Marking is required for your product, please consult the relevant EU-regulations.
The Principle of mutual recognition plays a major role in the prevention of limitations and the promotion of free trade. The development of this principle can mostly be traced back to the court practice of the European Court of Justice ("Cassis de Dijon"). The impact of the principle could be subject to extensive research, however the general idea is that of any product produced in one EU member state being technically eligible to be sold in the entire European Union. The product must receive equal protection in all EU member states. The various manifestations of the principle of mutual recognition can be found in the legal foundations of the "New Approach" and the "Overall Concept".
- EU-Regulation 765/2008
- Resolution 768/2008/EU
- Guideline for the implementation of the product regulations of the EU 2016 ("Blue Guide")
The legal framework constitutes an engaging system of norms for product safety. This legal framework may also be seen as a legal instrument that is applied to all industrial branches and beyond. According to Art. 288 TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), EU-regulations are legally binding and apply directly in every member state. In an EU-directive on the other hand, a common goal is defined and the member states are free to issue regulations for the implementation of the directive/guideline. EU-resolutions are legally binding and directly apply to whomever they are adressed to.
Further information on the CE-Marking
The CE-Marking an essential indication (but no proof) for the compliance of a product with the EU-regulations. This characteristic enables free trade in the European Single Market. The CE-Marking does not necessarily mean that a product was produced in the European Union. It merely attests its conformity with the relevant EU-Harmonization-Regulations. Similar to the EAC-Marking, the CE-Marking is affixed visible, legible and indestructible on the product. Furthermore, the CE-Marking must not be smaller than 5mm. In some specific cases, the identification number of the notified body must be affixed to the product aswell.
If the affixation of the CE-Marking to the product is impossible, the CE-Marking must instead be affixed to the packaging or accompanying documents.
Afterwards, the declaration of conformity is drawn up and signed.
Important! Noncompliance with the rules of the CE-Marking is punished with a heavy fine (up to several hundred thousand euro) as well as criminal liablility. All products that do not meet the requirements are destroyed at the expense of the producer/importer.
The origins of the EAC-Marking can be traced all the way back to the Soviet Union. Back then there also was a unified conformity mark and many different regulations applied. The legal fragmentation following the dissolution of the Soviet Union was very strenuous on the market, which had to change over time.
In Septermber 2011, the member states of the Eurasian Customs Union (at the time Russia, Belarus and Kazahkstan) have introduced the unified EAC-Marking. The abbreviation "EAC" stands for Eurasian Conformity. In 2014, the Customs Union was abolished and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was founded. The member states today include Russia, Belarus, Kazahkstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Syria and Tunesia are looking to join the EAEU soon.
The fundamental concept of the EAEU is to strengthen economic relations in the postsoviet area and to remove trade barriers. This approach is mostly comparable to the european idea (see above: "New Approach/Overall Concept"). The EAC-Marking remains the unified symbol for eurasian conformity.
Products first introduced to the market of Russia and the EAEU are subject to the conformity assessment in accordance with the requirements of the Technical Regulations of the EAEU - TR CU/EAEU in the form of a EAC Certification or a EAC Declaration. If the conformity assessment is successful, the products are marked with the EAC-Conformity-Mark.
Some of the technical codes of the EAEU are harmonised with the Regulations of the European Union. The Technical Regulation TR CU 004/2011 On safety of low-voltage equipment as well as the Low Voltage Directive 2006/95/EG are prime examples of this procedure.
By its nature, the EAC-Marking is very similar to the european CE-Marking. The EAC-Marking is necessary to inform both the supervisory authorities and the customers in the EAEU on the conformity of a product with the safety requirements and all relevant technical regulations.
The unified EAC-Marking of the Economic Union with the EAC-Marking was established in the Decision of the Commission of the EAEU Nr. 711 from July 15, 2011.
The EAC-Marking replaces all national conformity markings such as the GOST-R, the GOST-K and the TR in Russia, Kazahkstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
The EAC-Marking can only be applied to products which meet all requirements of the technical regulations of the EAEU. Only then may the products be imported and sold in the EAEU.
Further information on the EAC-Marking
The EAC-Marking consists of a combination of the three stylized letters "E", "A" and "C" and has the shape of a square. The marking must be affixed to a contrasting backgorund. The dimensions of the marking must be a minimum of 5mm and must guarantee good legibility on the chosen background with the naked eye.
The EAC-Marking can be applied in a variety of different ways so long as the legility for the entire lifespan of the product is guaranteed. The EAC-Marking must be applied to every single product unit, its packaging or its accompanying documentation. It must be monochrome and in a colour contrasting the background.
Important! It is unlawful to use the EAC-Marking in a manner which may mislead the consumer regarding the meaning of the EAC-Marking. Just like in the European Union, the abuse of the EAC-Marking may have severe criminal consequences.
It can therefore be deducted, that the introduction of a conformity marking both in the European Union and in the EAEU was based on the idea of technical harmonization. As experience shows, international markets trend towards integration among each other and globalisation.