The Low Voltage Directive and the EMC Directive are examples of the New Approach directives of the European Union. These directives have been introduced in order to facilitate the operation of the single market.
The directives are instructions to the member states of the EU to enact national legislation which implements particular requirements.
In respect of electrical and telecommunications equipment, the European Commission have requested the international standards bodies CENELEC and ETSI to draw up harmonised standards pursuant to these New Approach directives. The harmonised standards replace the various national standards which have been in place hitherto.
If a product complies with the relevant harmonised standard then it is presumed to be compliant with the directive. Manufacturing and testing a product against a harmonised standard is therefore the most direct way of ensuring compliance although it is not compulsory.
The new approach directives require that a CE mark is placed on products in order to indicate compliance to the end user.
A manufacturer whose product is compliant issues a Declaration of Conformity and affixes the 'CE' Mark. He is then free to trade his product in all the member states of the EU and EFTA (the European Economic Area - EEA).
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