The European Commission published on November 22, 2019 its proposal for an EU-U.S. agreement on conformity assessment for industrial products, in line with its commitment to enhanced transparency in trade negotiations.
A product exported between the two sides often has to undergo an assessment to demonstrate that it complies with the technical and safety requirements of the importing party, a so-called “conformity assessment”. This often means additional costs for exporters, which is especially burdensome for smaller companies, who often decide not to export at all because of those costs and complexities.
The EU proposal seeks an agreement, under which the EU and the U.S. would accept the conformity assessment results of each other’s assessment bodies, certifying products against the legal requirement of the other side. This would enable exporters to seek certification of their products in their originating country.
The proposal covers all relevant industrial sectors where third-party conformity assessment is required by either side. In addition, the EU proposal addresses the difficulties faced by EU exporters of machinery and electric and electronic equipment in the certification of products sold in the US market.
This would make trade quicker, easier and cheaper, while maintaining a high level of consumer safety. The economic benefits are important: EU-U.S. trade in goods amounted to EUR 674 billion in 2018, with many products being subject to third-party conformity assessment.
This is an area where we can achieve meaningful results quickly. The EU is ready to conclude an agreement as early as next year.
Conformity assessment is the process of verifying that a product meets all the legislative requirements in order to be sold in a given country. It ensures that the product is safe and complies with relevant regulations.
The joint EU-US work on conformity assessment was one of the actions agreed under the EU-US Joint Statement of July 25, 2018. On April 15, 2019, the EU Council adopted a decision authorising the launch of negotiations for an agreement with the United States on conformity assessment.