Consultation on update of the Commission’s “Blue Guide” on EU product rules
Gauthier van Thuyne
13 January 2020
The European Commission has invited stakeholders to comment on issues that should be included in the next update of the Blue Guide on the implementation of EU product rules (the Blue Guide). The invitation can be found here. Suggestions should be sent to GROW-B1@ec.europa.eu by 15 January 2020.
The initial version of the Blue Guide was published in 2000 and has over the years become key guidance on the implementation of EU product rules, initially based on the so-called “New Approach” and subsequently on the “New Legislative Framework. It has been updated on various occasions; the latest version of the Commission’s Blue Guide was released in July 2016.
The Blue Guide covers a wide range of Union harmonisation legislation on products. It contains guidance on, amongst others, product requirements, conformity assessment, accreditation and market surveillance. In practice, the Blue Guide is often used by national authorities to interpret national legislation implementing EU law. It is thus an important tool for businesses.
The Blue Guide will be updated to reflect new EU legislation, and in particular Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 on market surveillance and compliance of products. The European Commission further intends on adapting the Blue Guide so that it better covers the digital age (for instance, e-commerce and marketplaces) as well as environmental protection in the context of the emerging circular economy.
Whilst it is not the European Commission’s intention to completely rewrite the Blue Guide, stakeholders are invited to raise issues that may have come up due to new developments, or topics that merit additional clarification in the current Blue Guide.
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1. The New Approach legislative technique established the following four principles: (i) legislative harmonisation should be limited to essential requirements that products placed on the EU market must meet if they are to benefit from free movement within the EU, (ii) the technical specifications for products meeting the essential requirements set out in legislation should be laid down in harmonised standards which can be applied alongside the legislation, (iii) products manufactured in compliance with harmonised standards benefit from a presumption of conformity with the corresponding essential requirements of the applicable legislation and, in some cases, the manufacturer may benefit from a simplified conformity assessment procedure, and (iv) the application of harmonised or other standards remains voluntarily and the manufacturer can always apply other technical specifications to meet the requirements.
2. The New Legislative Framework consists of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 and Decision No 768/2008/EC. Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 established the legal basis for accreditation and market surveillance and consolidated rules on CE marking. Decision 768/2008/EC updated, harmonised and consolidated the various technical instruments already in use in existing Union harmonisation.
4. Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on market surveillance and compliance of products and amending Directive 2004/42/EC and Regulations (EC) No 765/2008 and (EU) No 305/2011.