We've just gotten word from our friends in Europe that the EU metric labeling directive has finally been modified FROM requiring all products (and product packaging, training materials, other collateral materials, etc.) entering the EC after December 31, 2009 to use only metric measures and nomenclature TO an indefinite extension of the current practice of permitting the use of "supplementary indications." One caveat is that the decision calls for a review of this decision in 10 years to see if there has been any impact on European markets. But our friends in Europe think it very unlikely that this issue will come up again unless there truly is a negative impact on European businesses.
This business-friendly action is long overdue and very welcome. NEMA and the NEMA Codes and Standards Committee led a 4+ year effort to convince the EC that the metric-only directive was a bad case of "regulation interfering with international commerce." Working with ORGALIME and other European organizations and business leaders, as well as US trade representatives and other US organizations, NEMA was able to to make the case that "metric only" creates an obstacle to commerce at a time when intense efforts are underway to improve trade and trade relations between the planet's two largest markets. NEMA pointed out that the marketplace should be allowed to determine labeling requirements. Forcing metric-only labeling would have required many manufacturers, both US and European, to carry two inventories–one for metric only markets in Europe and one for US Customary or Imperial units in US markets that do not recognize metric units–a costly requirement estimated by some at more than $300 billion. The European Commission and the members of the European Union have now approved the change and hopefully we will not be hearing about this again for a long, long . . . time.