We review the impact of the European Construction Products Regulation, including the findings of a European Commission (EC) report, and consider the likely future for the regulation of construction products.

Background

The European Construction Products Regulation 205/2011 has applied across the European Union (EU) since July 2013, when it replaced the European Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC).

The Regulation has a very broad scope and applies to all types of products from welding consumables to building materials and road construction products. Its aims are as follows:

  • Ensure the safety performance of construction products.
  • Establish harmonised rules on how to express the safety performance of construction products, including the use of CE markings. 
  • By harmonising construction product norms, remove market barriers within the EU, allowing products to circulate freely and encouraging competition.

All products covered by the Regulation must meet the relevant essential performance characteristics which are related to the “basic requirements for construction works”. The requirements cover areas such as mechanical resistance and stability, health and the environment, hygiene and safety in the event of fire.

To assist in removing restrictions to harmonisation, the Regulation gives the EC the power to “adopt delegated acts” - i.e. make rules - on specific matters set out at Article 60. The power is granted only until April 2016.

Since July 2013, the EC has exercised its adoptive powers on matters such as the classification of reaction to fire performance and the testing and checking of performance systems for ventilation ducts and pipes, geosynthetic products and wastewater engineering products.

Latest developments

As required by the Regulation, the EC has appraised its own performance in relation to the exercise of its adoptive powers and issued its findings in a report published on 16 September 2015.

The report records that: 

  • During the preparation of delegated acts, the EC consulted relevant experts nominated by EU member states, as well as relevant stakeholders and the European Parliament. 
  • The observations presented in these consultations were taken into consideration when finalising those acts. 
  • The EC has exercised its delegated powers within the remit conferred by the Regulation.

It recommends that the delegation of power conferred by Article 60 should be extended beyond April 2016, due to the pace of technical progress and the evolving needs of the construction industry.

The granting of powers for a further period of time is something for the European Parliament and Council to consider and address.

Implications

Looking ahead, given the benefits of CE markings for consumers and the economic arguments for greater harmonisation in this area, there will almost certainly be an extension to the EC’s ability to make harmonising rules beyond April 2016.

In turn, we can expect to see additional requirements for construction products imposed by the EC.

Those who manufacture construction products, or import them into the EU, as well as those who simply supply them, should therefore expect the imposition of wider and more stringent requirements across the sector in coming years.