Revision of the Machinery Directive
The European Commission has instigated a revision of the Machinery Directive, Described as a Roadmap for revision.
This initial opportunity to give feedback on the proposals is open until the 11th February and any feedback received will be taken into account for further development and fine tuning of the Directive. A copy of the proposal and directions on how to give feedback is available here.
All input received will be summarised in a synopsis report explaining how this will be taken on board and, if applicable, why certain suggestions can't be implemented.
The Machinery Directive has two overall objectives:
- ensuring a high level of safety and protection for users of machinery and other people exposed to it
- securing the free movement of machinery in the internal market.
However, the remit is particularly broad covering a wide range of products from lawnmowers to 3D printers, from powered hand-tools to construction machinery and from robots to complete automated industrial production lines. It also covers electrically actuated furniture.
Why revise the Directive?
Following a recent evaluation of the Directive, carried out as part of the Commission’s regulatory fitness and performance programme, it was highlighted that whilst the Directive is generally relevant, effective, efficient and coherent, and has EU added value, there was a need for specific improvements and simplification.
In particular, the following issues were identified:
- a lack of coherence with the wider EU framework and enforcement difficulties. The fact that the Directive is not aligned with the ‘new legislative framework’ (see Decision No 768/2008/EC) generates administrative burden and additional costs for economic operators, market surveillance authorities and EU institutions (e.g. the procedure for handling safeguard clauses, the form and content of documentation, etc.)
- a lack of legal clarity in the scope and definitions. In particular, the definition of ‘partly completed machinery’ gives rise to legal uncertainty and additional costs for operators and national authorities.
- also, certain categories of products that are explicitly excluded from the scope are not defined in such a way as to ensure clear delimitation vis-à-vis other applicable legislation, e.g. the Low Voltage Directive
- administrative burden and additional costs for operators due to requirements for paper documentation – the Directive is not clear as to whether the documentation accompanying products can be in digital formats
- challenges posed by technical progress in digitalisation, e.g. AI and IoT.
This project also aims to examine the possibility of converting the Directive into a Regulation. A Regulation would be directly applicable in the Member States and so simplify matters for stakeholders and national administrations.