On 4th April 2011 the new Construction Products Regulation (CPR) No: 305/2011 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Regulation came into force on 24th April but its major provisions and annexes apply fully from 1st July 2013, on which date it completely replaces the Construction Products Directive (CPD)
So what is the CPR, and for which products is it conceived?
The CPR is a Regulation on construction products. Unlike a Directive the Regulation text is acknowledged and must be brought into national law by all member countries without any modifications. This enables it to have more clarity and a better applicability in the European internal market.
The CPR’s objective is not to define construction products’ safety but to ensure that reliable information is presented in relation to the products’ performance. This is achieved by providing a common technical language, mainly in standards.
Like CPD, the CPR also applies to all construction products. It is aimed at removing technical barriers to trade in the field of construction products in order to enhance their free movement in the internal market.
So let’s see what a manufacturer will have to do, from the 1st July 2013, to ensure that their construction product can freely circulate in the European Market.
As in the CPD so in the CPR a “free circulating” construction product will need a CE marking. So the manufacturer must affix a CE marking. The CE marking is just a mark, very simple to print... but by affixing it, the manufacturer becomes wholly responsible for the conformity of their product to the stated performances.
These performances are declared in a “Declaration of Performance” (DoP). So, before affixing a CE marking, the manufacturer must first draw up a Declaration of Performance. All information necessary to draw up a DoP is contained in a harmonized standard: i.e. technical data, information on the Verification of the Constancy of the Performance of the product (VCP), list of the essential characteristics for the declared intended use of product, information on hazardous substances and on the product sustainability.
So, a DoP can be issued only for a product that is covered by a harmonized standard. The manufacturer must first check whether the product is covered by any standards.
- If so, the manufacturer has to buy the standard as published by a national standard institution. Then, he must read it, understand it and implement it. After carrying out all procedures required by the standard, the manufacturer will put all the achieved information in a DoP. After drawing up the DoP, the manufacturer can finally affix the CE marking.
If the product is not covered by a harmonized standard, the affixing of the CE marking is not mandatory. A manufacturer who wishes to get the CE marking still has the possibility to ask for a special, product-tailored technical specification on its product: an ETA - European Technical Assessment (similar but by no means identical to a current European Technical Approval as issued by EOTA) issued on the basis of an EAD - European Assessment Document (similar but by no means identical to a current ETAG – Guideline for European Technical Approval, as issued by EOTA). EADs are not harmonized standards, so, for products covered by EADs, the affixing of the CE marking is not mandatory.
What difficulties can a manufacturer meet along the CE marking route?
A product is often covered by many standards. If you have dealt with standards related to one or more construction products at least once in your life, you know that it is hard to get clear and full information about the procedure to follow to achieve the CE marking. Once the standards are identified, the least effort is buying them. The real problem is to understand which standards concern a certain product and implement all of them.
Moreover, each member state has the right to introduce provisions, related to health, durability, energy economy, economic aspects, environment, and protection of workers. This means that, as it also happened for the CPD with the CPR, the CE marking opens the doors to the internal market, but at the same time it does not prevent the more diligent and regulation-minded member states asking for further certifications on issues that are outside the safety of products. An example: In Germany, for some CE marked products, one requires additional certification for installers specifically for that product.
The good news is that to help the manufacturer, the CPR provides for the creation of Product Contact Points for Construction. These institutions must provide precise and reliable information about the law in force in the Member State where a manufacturer intends to place or make available on the market their product.
Once the laws and the standards are identified, and all provisions have been carried out successfully, the manufacturer will draw up a DoP. What does a DoP look like? The format of a DoP is given in Annex III of the CPR. Depending on the product, a DoP can be a short note or a kind of booklet. As a DoP needs to be translated into all EU languages where the product is sold, the booklet can become very big. Therefore, the CPR foresees the possibility to supply the DoP via websites. A discussion between the European Commission and the industry is still ongoing to define under which conditions this will be possible.
Good news for some manufacturers - but very much discussed and criticised because it could create disadvantages for all other firms – a manufacturer is permitted to refrain from drawing up a DoP if a product is:
- Individually manufactured, or custom-made in a non-series process.
- Manufactured on the construction site for its incorporation in the respective construction works.
- Manufactured in a traditional manner or in a manner appropriate to heritage conservation and in a non-industrial process for renovation construction work, which is officially protected because of their special architectural or historic merit.
To get down to the fine detail you can download the CPR from http://eur-lex.europa.eu searching on 305/2011.