European EMC Directive, what does it mean when a standard is updated / changed


The following is a brief explanation to grandfathering of EMC Directive compliant products after a standard has been revised.

Page 28 of the Guide for the EMC Directive 2004/108/EC (8th February 2010) states:

The EMC Directive refers to the moment of placing on the market for each individual apparatus. This means that for apparatus which is continuously produced over a long period, the applicable standards may change in the course of time. In this case the provisions explained at concerning the date of cessation of Presumption of Conformity should be taken into account. The Date of Cessation ensures that a transition period (usually three years) is foreseen during which the old and new standards are both valid.

After this time if the manufacturer wishes to continue to benefit from the Presumption of Conformity a new Declaration of Conformity is required to the later valid edition of the harmonised standard. This will require an EMC evaluation to the later version of the published harmonised standard and may require re-testing. However, it may be that the manufacturer wishes to continue to meet the essential requirements by continuing use of the “old” edition (that has ceased to be harmonised) plus other technical solutions if necessary. As harmonised standards are voluntary this is of course an acceptable solution but would not give the presumption of conformity that application of the later edition would confer. In addition, it will require amendment to the text of the Declaration given that the method of conformity assessment has now changed.

Where new editions become available and are to be applied it does not necessarily mean that a complete EMC re-assessment of an existing product is necessary. The evaluation may be restricted to those modifications directly affecting the apparatus concerned. For example, the change may only relate to a small range in scope, or one particular clause or phenomenon.

This is consistent with the intent of the EMC Directive and the requirement that products comply with harmonised European Standards (if this option is adopted); the harmonised standards being the current standards that are to be used to show presumption of conformance.  Once a standard version becomes obsolete, it cannot be considered a current harmonised standard, so effectively the product is required to comply with a current harmonised standard even if the product remains unmodified.  Refer to following taken from the EMC Directive (2004/108/EC).

Article 6

Harmonised standards

1. “Harmonised standard” means a technical specification adopted by a recognised European standardisation body under a mandate from the Commission in conformity with the procedures laid down in Directive 98/34/EC for the purpose of establishing a European requirement. Compliance with a “harmonised standard” is not compulsory.

2. The compliance of equipment with the relevant harmonised standards whose references have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union shall raise a presumption, on the part of the Member States, of conformity with the essential requirements referred to in Annex I to which such standards relate. This presumption of conformity is limited to the scope of the harmonised standard(s) applied and the relevant essential requirements covered by such harmonised standard(s).

Based on the above, an existing compliant product (that remains unmodified throughout its life) will eventually need to comply with the latest harmonised standard if it is to be placed on the market for sale after the transition period.


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