Plans for revising the European Construction Products Directive
1. Revision of the Construction Products Directive (CPD)
In October 2005, the Commission adopted a Communication on the simplification of the regulatory framework, in which the construction sector was identified as a priority domain. The Commission believes that the CPD only partially eliminates barriers to trade and does not establish optimal conditions allowing the free circulation and use of construction products inside the Community. Therefore, prior to preparing a legislative proposal to simplify the CPD, in 2006, the Commission carried out a wide consultation of interested stakeholders on important features of the Directive. Of the total of 319 replies, the main messages were:
- - The need for a harmonised legislative framework. Mutual recognition is generally regarded as not working well in its absence.
- - The need for clarification. This concerns the fundamentals of the Directive: the general approach (performance based versus prescriptive), the meaning and the status (compulsory or not) of the CE marking, the acceptance of the CE marking by national authorities, and the role of the standards and the European Technical Approvals (ETA's).
- - The need for simplification. The systems of attestation of conformity should be simplified and their number reduced. The ETA route for CE marking and the administrative procedures for its delivery should be made easier. The "no performance determined" (NPD) option should be maintained but needs to be clearly defined as a means of simplifying the application of the Directive and avoiding unnecessary costs to companies.
- - There is a demonstrated concern about the potential specific effects of the CPD on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Changes to the Directive should not place undue burden on their business activity.
- - The need for reinforcing the credibility of the system. This is seen as a necessary condition for the achievement of the internal market, mainly by an increased harmonisation of the procedures and criteria for designation by the national authorities of the conformity assessment bodies and a better coordination of the market surveillance mechanisms.
2. Other issues affecting the placing on the market of construction products in the European Union are:
- - The mounting & fixing conditions (i.e. how a specimen is installed in the fire test) described in European Product Standards, which may have a decisive influence on the fire performance of construction products, are often still not finalised.
- - In some cases, in addition to the European fire tests, national tests are still used, as fire safety levels prescribed in national building regulations cannot be met properly by the European testing and classification system.
- - Some member states have regulations based on the fire classification of materials and not of finished products. This can be detrimental for polymers or polymer foams tested as materials and not as construction products components: they may not pass the SBI test. The consequence would be that end use products with high fire safety levels containing these materials could no more be placed on the market.
- - According to the Vienna Agreement between the European standards organisation CEN and the international standards organisation ISO, the ongoing revision of the European EN ISO reaction to fire tests has to be carried out in conjunction with ISO. This may be rather time consuming.