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EC set to take legal action on CE mark

MATERIALS - European Commission to go to court to make quality marking mandatory in UK

THE EUROPEAN Commission is to take legal action against the UK in an effort to make quality control marks for construction products mandatory.

Following consultat ion with lawyers, Reinhard Klein, head of the Construction Unit at the European Commission, announced he had decided to start proceedings against four countries which do not enforce CE marking.

If the case is successful the Government will have to make CE marking of construction products compulsory. This will mean UK manufacturers selling products in this country will have to ensure their ranges reach set performance standards.

Producers that export materials to most EU countries must have products CE marked before they can be traded. France and Germany, among others, insist that products demonstrate their compliance with regulations.

The UK has always argued that under the Construction Products Directive CE marking is not mandatory, although it is assumed that most items will be marked in order to boost market confidence.

This is a view shared with the Republic of Ireland, Finland and Sweden, which also do not insist that all products must be marked and against which the European Commission will launch similar legal action.

The move is the latest in a long-running debate that has seen the Commission pitted against the four countries that refuse to insist on CE marks.

Initially officers at the Commission claimed that the Construction Products Directive made product marking compulsory and that the UK, Republic of Ireland, Finland and Sweden were breaking the law by not insisting on it.

Now this position has softened but the Commission still insists that a Council decision has made marking obligatory and that it will take legal action to enforce this decision.

John Tebbit, industry affairs director at the Construction Products Association, said: 'This is the latest skirmish in a very long campaign.

'It is also totally unnecessary because we are currently going through a review of the Construction Products Directive, which is expected to make marking mandatory anyway.'