Standards and conformity assessment
Standards and conformity assessment procedures together with technical regulations are three factors potentially constituting technical barriers to trade.
While technical regulations are setting mandatory product requirements, standards contain voluntary detailed technical specifications and criteria for the characteristics of products assisting manufacturers in complying with the mandatory requirements set in technical regulations.
Conformity assessment procedures are a tool to demonstrate that a product complies with all relevant mandatory product requirements. Third party conformity assessment requires an intervention by independent conformity assessment bodies or public authorities and is usually required for medium to high risk products. When mandatory third-party conformity assessment is required this increases conformity assessment costs (financial costs and delays in accessing a market). Bilateral mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) on conformity assessment are intended to reduce the costs of testing and certification in other markets which by providing that each party accepts the reports, certificates and marks that are delivered in the partner country in accordance with the legislation of the other party.
An EU survey on conformity assessment was undertaken from 10 March until 24 April 2022. The survey targeted at EU companies manufacturing or selling industrial products outside the EU with the aim to increase awareness among EU industry of the opportunities provided by MRAs and to identify specific challenges faced by EU industry in respect of conformity assessment in markets outside the EU. Download survey results
In March and April 2023, the European Commission, DG TRADE, conducted another survey on conformity assessment and mutual recognition agreements and conformity assessment. This time the focus was on the EU Conformity Assessment Bodies, with the objective to identify the potential issues preventing EU CABs from becoming designated under an MRA and to understand which additional MRAs would be beneficial from the point of view of EU CABs. Results of that survey.