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CE mark delay sparks fury

MATERIAL -SEC's decision to extend deadline for abandoning national standards angers product manufacturers

PRODUCT manufacturers have written to the European Commission to register their disgust at moves to postpone the introduction of European conformity marks for thermal insulation until May.

They claimed manufacturers would walk away from plans for European product conformity (CE) marks unless the EC reversed its decision to allow the use of national quality marks following appeals from industry representatives in Germany (Construction News, March 6).

Germany had insisted the introduction of CE marked products would bring lower quality to its home market and it refused to accept those which did not pass its own standards.

But in a letter to Dr Helen Sutcliffe of the European Commission's Construction Unit, the Construction Products Association (CPA) expressed surprise at the EC's decision and claimed the move had 'caused considerable damage' to the industry.

The letter raised doubts over the legal validity of the EC's move and claimed members felt betrayed.

John Tebbit, CPA industry affairs director, claimed the EC had backtracked on decisions supporting the March 1 CE mark introduction date following two previous objections from Germany.

He said: 'We would urge the Commission to retract the proposals and address the real issue, which is Germany threatening to illegally block CE marked products.'

Dr Sutcliffe had called on materials producers to fully embrace the CE mark system and was critical of the number of common standards the sector had reached against its targeted figure.

Referring to the poor take-up, Dr Sutcliffe said: 'It seems the industry is not fully engaged in the system and all this could lead to a lack of confidence in CE marking. This must be avoided.'

Her stance confused insulation manufacturers. One said: 'If this extension of the co-existence period is not leading to a lack of confidence, nothing is.'

A source close to the EC Construction Unit said it had come under extreme pressure from the German delegation and claimed the new deadline for abandoning national standards would be May 13.

He said: 'The Germans were looking for the period to be extended until the end of the year but no other member states will support that. May 13 will be the cutoff point for national standards.'

The source added that if Germany refused to allow CE marked products to be sold in its markets before then, it would be in breach of European law.

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