One of the first questions when dealing with a regulation is to know what products are covered by it. The reply is slightly complicated but interesting: CPR covers construction products in two different ways; for some products the CPR requirements are compulsory and for others they are voluntary. We will explain both these cases in detail.
Applying CPR is compulsory for products included in the scope of a harmonised Product Specification (hEN). Manufacturers, according to the testing and calculations given in the text of the hEN, have to declare the performance of the products in the documents described in the CPR (including the CE marking and the Declaration of Performance). In particular, the declaration has to be made for the essential characteristics described in the Annex ZA of the hEN. Moreover, it is this Annex that is the tool to be used when developing the documents required by the CPR.
The standards developed by the Technical Committees of CEN become hEN when their titles are published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The format in the OJEU is a table including the number of the hEN, the title and the dates for the co-existence period. Applying the regulation is compulsory from the end of the co-existence period and voluntary between the beginning and the end of it. The last update of the list published can be found through this link.
For the products not included in the scope of the hEN, the regulation offers an alternative through European Technical Assessments (ETA), known as Technical Approvals. In this case manufacturers can voluntarily request an assessment of the product from a Technical Assessment Body (TAB) to provide their clients with the information described in the CPR. Technical Assessment Bodies in this respect are (amongst others) the Approval Bodies known in the European Member States.
The documents containing the assessment methodology are called European Assessment Documents (EAD). TAB, using the EAD, assess the performance of the product and give the manufacturer a ETA which contains the results for the essential characteristics. Manufacturers use the information in the ETA to prepare the documents described in the CPR (including the CE marking and the Declaration of Performance).
The European Commission also publish the list of EADs in the OJEU when they are adopted by the association of TAB called EOTA. There is no co-existence period for EAD or ETA because they are issued under request from manufacturers for a specific product.
Products not included in the scope of a hEN and not assessed using a ETA cannot be CE marked according to the CPR. The most common products in this situation are innovative products for which the standards and assessment have not been developed but every year the list of products covered either in the compulsory or voluntary way grows.
Construction products have been regulated at European level for many years: the first horizontal legal document related to construction products, the Construction Products Directive (CPD), was adopted the 21st December 1988 (89/106/EEC), and published in the Official Journal on 11th February 1989.
The first CE marking issued for a construction product under the CPD was affixed in 1998 to an anchor bolt and manufacturers used the voluntary option through a European Technical Approval. After the publication of the harmonised product standards in 2001, the first products covered by the compulsory requirement of CE marking were cement and thermal insulation.
The 12 year period between the adoption of the CPD and the first application to a product may appear to be quite a long period but, in order to finalize the application of the CE marking, many things were required first. It was necessary to write interpretative documents for the 35 to 40 families of products used in construction; identify the links between product characteristics and the requirements applicable to the construction works (finished in 1993); address mandates to CEN to draft harmonised product standards, and also to EOTA to prepare European Technical Approvals (between 1996 and 2003) .
When those preparatory tasks were achieved, the CE marking and its accompanying information finally started to be affixed on products.
Since 2001, more than 400 harmonized products standards have been finalized by CEN, in conformity with mandates, and the list keep growing. Those product standards are supported by more than 1500 supporting standards containing test and other assessment methods. The references to these standards were cited in the Official Journal of the European Union, allowing their legal entering into force. Therefore, there are now more than 400 families of products on which the CE marking and the supply of the required information accompanying the CE marking have to be affixed.
Beside harmonised product standards, more than 3000 European Technical Approvals have been issued for individual products, allowing them to benefit from the advantages of CE marking.
The application of the CPD let manufacturers and authorities (European Commission and Members States) discover the weakness of the text i.e. lacks of clarity for some clauses, and complex implementation in Member States.
The Commission started the CPD revision procedure in 2006 with the objective of clarifying the text and to simplify its application, taking into account the lessons of the past experience. After a public consultation on the strength and weakness of the CPD, the European Commission also decided to focus on the difficulties of SMEs and micro-enterprises.
These objectives led the Commission to prepare the initial proposal for a revised text, which was made available on 23rd May 2008 (COM (2008) 311 final). With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the 1st December 2009, the former co-decision procedure, now called the ordinary legislative procedure, had been extended to almost all European Directives and Regulations, including the case for the Construction Products Regulation.
For the CPR, the European Parliament accepted the proposal from the European Commission in its first reading, on 24th of April 2009, but tabled 101 amendments which included some substantial changes in the fundamental basis of the text. The Council then examined the draft, and after a year and half of discussions and more than 50 meetings, agreed in principle with a number of the main changes introduced by the Parliament. On this basis, the Council prepared a new version of the CPR, taking into consideration the initial proposal from the European Commission, and introduced amendments.
During the second reading, a compromise was found between the three European Institutions (European Commission, European Parliament and Council) allowing the publication of the text which was adopted by the Parliament on 18th January 2011, fully adopted by the three European Institutions on 9th March 2011 and then published 4th April 2011 in the Official Journal of the European Union, Regulation (EU) No 305/2011.
CPR’s full entry into force is 1st July 2013 and we will explain in this blog details about the content, the implementation and our own interpretation of this Regulation.
We are very pleased to announce the launch of our blog that we have set up as a forum to discuss relevant construction-related topics. The focus will be on Construction Product Regulation but we will also include other related topics, so please feel free to input into the discussions taking place on the blog. To be able to comment on an article, you can click on the individual article and fill in your details and response in the comment box at the bottom of each post.
The first article covers the history of the CPD and the reasons behind why it is now changing to CPR. We will be posting new articles in the very near future covering topics such as the construction products covered by the CPR and a breakdown of what the implementation of the regulation actually means for construction product manufacturers.
We decided to start this blog as blogs are far more interactive than newsletters and most websites and it is easier to put ideas forward in this forum rather than on Twitter. Everyone is welcome to comment and we will feature guest bloggers in the future! If you have any questions or comments please email email@example.com.
You can visit our website for futher information on the work that we do as an association here. We will also announce on twitter whenever we have a new discussion and also feature highlights from the blog, so keep up to date with us here.