A joint meeting between the U.S. National Committee of the IEC (USNC/IEC) and the German National Committee for IEC has been scheduled for March 26-27, 2014 in Frankfurt, German. The USNC/IEC serves as the focal point for U.S. parties who are interested in the development, promulgation and use of globally-relevant standards for the electotechnical industry. The USNC/IEC is a committee of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The purpose of the meeting is to have an in depth discussion of issues of mutual interest, one of which concerns national conformity assessment. Members of the USNC/IECEE have asked that the agenda include a discussion regarding the acceptance of manufacturer’s testing by German certification bodies issuing the national certification mark of Germany, commonly referred to as the GS Mark. While the GS Mark has limited appeal it is as desirable as the CE mark for those wanting to enter the German market.
The European Union (EU) introduced the CE marking system in 1985 to promote free trade within the European Community. The system is credited for ending inconsistent national product requirements responsible for hindering trade within the EU. And while EU members are not allowed to impose any additional product standards or certification requirements on products covered by the CE marking system, resourceful members have found alternatives to shield and defend their market by transposing EU directives into national law. One example is Germany which is considered a primary entry point into the European market for electrical products.
Germany transposed the European Product Safety Directive, 2001/95/EC, into German Law, known as the Product Safety Act (a.k.a. ProdSG). The law prohibits products placed on the market which do not have a CE mark and lays out the conditions for a GS body to award the GS mark. The GS mark is often sought by manufacturers because it is often mandated in government procurements, including non-governmental organizations receiving financial assistance such as schools and hospitals.
Zentralstelle der Länder für Sicherheitstechnik (ZLS) has historically been the recognized authorizing authority in Germany for authorizing a conformity assessment body (i.e., a GS body) to award the GS Mark. ZLS issued an ordinance effecting GS bodies regarding acceptance of manufacturer provided test reports and certificates for the purpose of awarding the GS mark (ZEK-GB-2012-01). At issue is that the ordinance failed to address the IECEE CB Scheme, limiting acceptance of manufacturer provided IECEE CB test reports by GS body for consideration for awarding the GS mark to only those where very specific conditions are met.
The USNC/IEC will be asking the German National Committee to IEC to request the Institute for Standardisation (DIN) petition the Germany’s Product Safety Committee to get ZLS to broaden GS body’s acceptance of the IECEE CB Scheme test reports and certificates to all IECEE NCBs and to also allow the acceptance of test reports and certificates that may be based on manufacturer’s test data.