Standardisation plays a crucial role for the European construction sector. It is the main pillar of the Internal Market, allows the free movement of construction products in the European Union (EU) and streamlines construction activities. This important role is acknowledged in European legislation, notably the CPR1 and the European Standardisation Regulation.Within the scope of the CPR, harmonised technical specifications, such as harmonised European product standards, define the common technical language. This has to be used by manufacturers to express the technical performance of their products. National regulators use it when necessary, to define minimum performance requirements, which ensure their required national safety levels. This common technical language also enables manufacturers, designers and contractors to exchange product information irrespective of EU borders and traditional regional or local building practices. The continuous updates, based on scientific evidence, innovation and evolving needs are done in a transparent and co-ordinated way and published in easily accessible documents. These updates are vital for the construction value chain.
Construction product manufacturers and contractors therefore rely strongly on standards that remain aligned with changing market and regulatory demands. Without up to date standards, the Internal Market for construction products could neither be achieved, nor maintained.
However, in recent years, the European standardisation system and legislation have often failed to deliver harmonised product standards in a timely manner that takes account of relevant changes in the system. This situation is not only putting the Internal Market for construction products at risk; it is also reducing efficiency in the construction sector. The result is a backlog in the citation of harmonised product standards in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). This backlog, although not limited to construction products, affects the manufacturers of these products more than those of any other sector due to the mandatory nature of harmonised products standards under the CPR. The consequences of unavailable or outdated harmonised product standards include an increase of direct or indirect costs for the businesses (especially Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), for which the economic damage is not yet clear. Moreover, there is acute confusion in the market, especially when new or revised/updated standards have long since been published but have still not been cited in the OJEU. This situation is unsustainable for stakeholders using standards. Furthermore, there is not only a risk to the competitiveness of the sector, but also a risk that this dysfunctional system might force the creation of new national standardisation initiatives.
The European Commission has been undertaking a review of the CPR regulation for some time. It will shortly present a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the Regulation on European Standardisation. Construction product manufacturers and contractors call upon the European Institutions to co-ordinate their response to the findings in order to ensure coherence, transparency and consistency.
Although no decisions have yet been taken with regard to any actual revision of the CPR, the
construction sector needs solutions without delay. The sector cannot wait until the end of the
review process. For this reason, construction products manufacturers and contractors are committed to supporting European Institutions (in particular the European Commission) and
European Standardisation Organisations in the meantime. We want to work together to find
short-term solutions so that the internal market for construction products can function in an
efficient and effective way, in particular:
- Provide a flexible approach to the development of harmonised product standards, allowing the industry to put forward technical solutions, which match the sector’s needs while continuing to satisfy regulatory aims;
- Streamline the development of Standardisation Requests, ensuring both fast delivery and transparency;
- Put in place joint solutions between the European Standardisation Organisations and the European Commission in order to remove the backlog in the citation of harmonised product standards in the OJEU.