Low Voltage Directive and Notified Bodies Forum

Developments in European Safety Legislation

 

The Low Voltage Directive (LVD), laying out the essential legal requirements for the safety of electrical products on the European market, has been in place since 1973. In 1993 it was amended to incorporate CE marking requirements, and became one of the New Approach Directives.

In the light of experience of the operation of the New Approach Directives, the European Commission has identified shortcomings both in the legal requirements of the Directives and in the practical enforcement of them. As a consequence the European Commission has taken a number of recent initiatives including:
 

  • public consultation on the Review of certain elements of the New Approach.
  • establishment of a Working Party to propose changes to the LVD.
  • publication of a revision of the General Products Safety Directive (GPSD).

 

1 Public Consultation on the New Approach

 

The public consultation by the European Commission broadly covered the application of all the New Approach Directives. It acknowledged that there were areas where improvements were needed, and sought the views of all sectors in the market. Two important areas addressed were the choice of conformity assessment modules and policies for market surveillance.

 

2 Working Party on Changes to the LVD

 

Early in 2001 it was decided to set up a Working Party to prepare the basis for a limited revision of the LVD; two of the key areas to be addressed were Market Surveillance and Traceability.

Concern had been growing over the number of unsafe products appearing on the European market. It had become clear that the arrangements in Member States for surveillance of products on the market were inadequate, and that the activity throughout the European Union was under-resourced. Additionally, when the Authorities had reason to trace the source of defective products, particularly those manufactured outside Europe, they were frequently unable to do so.

 

3 The Revised GPSD

 

The revised GPSD, published at the beginning of 2002, aims to ensure that all relevant safety provisions apply to all consumer products, while preserving sectoral safety requirements where they exist. A number of aspects bearing on consumer safety were identified as inadequately covered in current Directives, and it therefore introduced several new requirements which apply to products already covered by sectoral Directives such as the LVD. These new measures aim to ensure that consumers have the information needed to assess risks, and that safety problems are properly dealt with when they emerge.

 

The LVD Notified Bodies Forum

 

At the suggestion of the European Commission, the LVD Notified Bodies Forum was created in 2005, with the following aims:

  • To serve as a communication channel between Notified Bodies, the European Commission and other stakeholders;
  • To give advice to the LVD ADCO on matters regarding safeguard clause notifications;
  • To study solutions to safeguard clause notifications concerning products which bear European certification marks;
  • To investigate the impact of emerging economies world-wide on the appearance of unsafe products on the European market;
  • To facilitate co-operation between bodies engaged in market surveillance, voluntary certification and standardisation, and between those bodies and the European and national administrations;
  • and, in general, to provide a forum for the identification of any problems in the interface between LVD, safeguard clause notifications, voluntary product certification and standardisation.

The Secretariat of the LVD-NBF is held by EEPCA.