Regulation for safer machinery: Council adopts mandate for negotiations with European Parliament

(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)

Member States agreed today on a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal for a regulation on machinery products.

The proposal will see the 2006 machinery directive transformed into a regulation. The 2006 directive is one of the main pieces of legislation governing the harmonisation of essential health and safety requirements for machinery at EU level. It promotes the free movement of machinery within the single market and ensures a high level of protection for EU workers and citizens.

Transforming the directive into a regulation will make the legal framework more solid and help underpin the harmonisation of standards within the single market. The text has the necessary flexibility to accommodate emerging technologies, including future uses of artificial intelligence in the machinery sector.

Scope

To ensure legal certainty, the proposal clarifies the scope of the directive. In particular, the text put forward by the Council seeks not to exclude small vehicles used for personal transport and light electric vehicles such as electric scooters and electric bikes, insofar as they are widely used and could potentially be dangerous for their users.

List of products

The Council mandate has changed the structure of the list of machines or products, which is in Annex I to the Commission’s proposal. This change keeps the option of self-assessing conformity open for most items, with the involvement of conformity assessment bodies being mandatory only for some products. The European Commission will be able to adopt delegated acts to update this list of products, which need to be assessed by a conformity assessment body because of the greater risk they can pose. This ensures a balance is struck between the need to ensure the highest level of safety and the need to avoid placing a disproportionate burden on industry.

Other changes to the text

The Council text proposes that the Commission may develop technical specifications where standards are not available or are not satisfactory. However, that option remains a last resort and is only available to the Commission in specific circumstances.

The Council’s mandate strikes a fair balance between digital and paper documentation. This means that manufacturers will have to supply paper instructions to customers who request them within six months of buying the product.

The other changes to the Commission proposal are:

  • terms such as ‘machinery’, ‘related products’, ‘products subject to this regulation’ and ‘substantial modification’ have been clarified
  • the requirement for a third-party conformity assessment for certain categories of products has been clarified
  • the text has been decoupled from the forthcoming regulation on artificial intelligence
  • the provisions have been aligned consistently with the new legislative framework (NLF)

Next steps

Today’s mandate has been endorsed by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), which will allow the Council presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament soon.

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