When the European Community (EC) was first formed, each of the member states already had their own product safety legislation and Standards. Differences between the various national Standards presented a barrier to the free movement of goods, which violates a fundamental principle of the EC.
CE marking was introduced as a means to reduce trade barriers between European Community member states. This target was achieved by consolidating, or ‘harmonising’ the legislation and associated Standards. The EC has no power to change laws in any member state. Instead, committees produce a regulatory structure known as a ‘Directive’, which member states then have to implement within their own national legislation. The content of numerous performance Standards was also agreed by all member states and these became ‘Harmonised Standards’. If a product meets the requirements of a relevant Harmonised Standard, then it is deemed to comply with the specific Directive to which that Standard relates.