Construction Products Regulation (CPR) - 'Withdrawn and outdated standards' | Agoria

Construction Products Regulation (CPR) - 'Withdrawn and outdated standards'

Published on 10/06/20 by Dirk De Moor

The European Commission (EC) presented the paper AG015-05.1 ‘Withdrawn and outdated standards’  

at the last Advisory Group on construction products meeting, which took place on 6 March. There is no decision yet, but the EC wanted to have the opinion of member states on this matter. According to the AG015-05.1 paper, the EC is looking at the following cases: 

  • Situation 1: a candidate harmonised standard has been revised and published by CEN-CLC, but blocked by the EC and consequently not cited in the OJEU. The standard that is cited in the OJEU has been withdrawn by CEN/CENELEC members, but must be used by manufacturers for CE marking purposes. When this situation happens, the EC will assess whether the cited standard presents safety and accessibility issues. If it does, the EC will remove the standard from the OJEU. If it doesn’t, the EC will ask CEN/CENELEC to ‘revive’ the standard that has been withdrawn and if CEN/CENELEC disagrees, it will be removed from the OJEU.

  • Situation 2: a candidate harmonised standard has been revised and published by CEN/CENELEC, but blocked by the EC and consequently not cited in the OJEU. However, the old standard and the revised standard are both still active because the CEN/CENELEC member did not yet withdraw the old version. The EC would make an assessment whether there are ‘significant’ or ‘non-significant’ differences, particularly in terms of safety of citizens. If the differences are significant, the EC will remove the standard from the OJEU. If the differences are ‘non-significant’, the old standard remains cited. When the standard is finally withdrawn by CEN/CENELEC members, Situation 2 becomes Situation 1.

  • Situation 3: if a cited standard contains normative references that are withdrawn or obsolete, the EC may ask CEN/CENELEC to take corrective measures (e.g. through an amendment or corrigendum) to update the normative references. If corrections are made on the normative references, the standard remains cited, if not, it is removed from the OJEU.

At the EC Advisory Group on construction products meeting, various member states indicated that removing standards from the OJEU would be difficult to manage. The EC will prepare a list of standard concerned to be presented at the next advisory group meeting planned in September. The EC is expecting that CEN-CLC come up with a solution for these cases.

The EC indicates in the AG015-05.1 paper that fixing normative references could be done via either amendment or corrigenda. Consideration should be given to the fact that corrigenda by nature are not issued to correct normative references and can only be applied to documents published up to three years.

Questionnaire on 'withdrawn and outdated standards'

1) Should CEN/CENELEC consider the request from the European Commission to CEN/CENELEC to 'revive' standards that are cited in the OJEU but have been withdrawn (Situation 1)?

Agoria answer:
Stakeholders want to benefit from the internal market and a good communication between manufacturers and member states is important (that is, after all, the aim of the CPR).
But, technology advances in an ever increasing speed. Stakeholders want to benefit from state-of-the-art technology and products. If the stakeholders democratically decide that a new version of the standard is necessary to reflect new insights and innovative technologies, this shall be possible. It does not at all correspond with the innovative image that Europe wants to evoque, by freezing technology to an old state. Does Europe wants to become a new Soviet Union with frozen technology?
It is not a good idea to freeze innovation and bring industry to a standstill, thus destroying the competitive position of European industry and withdrawing the user from the access to state of the art products. The EC shall find a solution in quickly citing the newest standards, compatible with their innovation strategies.

2) Should CEN/CENELEC consider the European Commission requests to CEN/CENELEC to correct withdrawn or obsolete normative references in harmonised standards (Situation 3)?

Agoria answer:
Unlike legislation, standards do have a systematic evaluation process and are regularly adapted to new science, technology and experience. Certificates refer to standards. If standard references (or year of issue) change, certificates should be renewed. This is quite costly for the stakeholders to continuously buy new standards and renew certificates, not to mention the management of all these documents.
Standardisation institutes have a very good tracking system of the standards evolution. Superseding and superseded standards are registered meticulous. Shouldn't it be sufficient to rely on this database? If necessary, the EC could set up a similar database at a fraction of the cost of the proposed system of continuously updating standards and certificates.

In summary, there is a huge distance between the stakeholder's needs and the legislator's needs. Should you wish to express additional comments, please contact Dirk De Moor.

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