Brussels, 08 May 2003
On 7 May, the Commission adopted a communication which seeks to improve the competitiveness of European products by enhancing the effectiveness and transparency of the so-called 'new approach' directives.
The new approach is essentially a set of legislative measures which define mandatory product requirements within a range of industrial sectors in order to protect consumers, while leaving manufacturers free to chose the appropriate methodology or technical solution.
The flexibility offered by the approach, which has been in use within the EU for more than 20 years, means that it has proved to be highly effective in promoting product innovation and industrial competitiveness.
Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, Erkki Liikanen, said: 'With the development of the global economy and the speed of technological change, the advantages of more flexible regulatory techniques like the new approach are becoming increasingly obvious.'
'In order to further improve the system, we are now coming forward with new proposals to make it even more effective and transparent, to the benefit of all involved parties,' he added.
The new communication is the first example of an attempt to address horizontal aspects common to all of the various new approach directives. Following an extensive stakeholder consultation, the document identifies areas where the new approach could be improved, and makes recommendations aimed at reinforcing the competitiveness of European industry.
New recommendations include: ensuring that those bodies responsible for conformity assessment (notified bodies) carry out their work to the highest possible standards; the promotion of cooperation between notified bodies in order to ensure a common level of service, notably to small and medium sized companies (SMEs); increasing transparency between Member States; and promoting the understanding of CE marks so that consumers fully understand their purpose.
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