Way forward within standardisation for including other essential characteristics
In the aftermath of the reactions from various stakeholders, regarding the Standing Committee document 12/03, CEN and Commission services have been engaged in a constructive dialogue on the treatment of additional characteristics. During this process, a consensus has emerged on the outlines of our common approach how to tackle this matter in practical standardisation work, in accordance with the general principles set out in the document 12/03. The document at hand is thus presenting the way forward for harmonised standards under Construction Products Regulation (EU No 305/2011; the CPR), to be followed by the actors involved.
The dialogue has highlighted the importance of establishing a commonly agreed starting point for the standardisation actions. It thus merits being emphasised that CEN is in a position to include into harmonised standards (in Annex ZA) under the CPR only those essential characteristics which have a sufficient base in the mandating documentation (the respective mandate to CEN and the CEN answer to that mandate). CEN is not expected to transgress these lines in any way.
The Commission services have already, from September onwards, taken the first steps in the direction of the revision of the mandates now under the CPR, initially issued under the previous Directive (89/106/EEC; the CPD). Apart from other existing thrusts towards new or revised mandates, three product families and the respective mandates (M/101, M/103 & M/106) have been selected from the proposals brought forward by CEN for pilot examples of these actions. The collaborative analysis of these current mandates and harmonised standards based on them has been launched and the first results could be expected still this year; the intention is to involve the respective CEN TC, the industry concerned, Member States, and other relevant stakeholders in each of these actions.
This trend will be continued by further actions the Commission services have committed themselves to. The objective is not only to accommodate the general CPR –based approach, but also (and particularly here) to achieve the mutually agreed insertion of the previously additional characteristics into the mandate as essential characteristics, where appropriate owing to their relation to basic works requirements. This would entail the necessary authorisation for the establishment of classes and/or threshold levels, as well. As intended by the document 12/03, the objective would not be to delete or to remove these previous clauses, but rather to transform them so as to render them compatible with the CPR and the ECJ acquis. This will follow the necessary steps defined in the Regulation on European Standardization (EU No 1025/2012).
Before these actions mature and the new revised mandates are in place, pragmatic solutions may have to be developed in case new essential characteristics need to be included in the hENs. Moreover, the opportunities should be explored both in the area of publishing the OJEU references with restrictions and in the use of discretion in the context of OJEU citations (in the vein of the reference in the document 12/03 to “well-justified exceptions”). Obviously, the decisions taken should strongly depend on the circumstances in casu: however, both the Commission services and CEN are fully committed to close collaboration, in order to arrive to complete clarity on the bearing of these circumstances well in advance of the decisive stages of CEN decision-making on the content of future harmonised standards under the CPR.