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The European single market (the 28 Member States of the EU and EFTA countries Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) brings immense benefits to consumers. We have all grown accustomed to a wide variety of products. However, consumers naturally expect the products they buy to be safe.
In creating the European single market, the European Union (EU) has put in place specific safety legislation for certain categories of products sold on the market. This legislation goes beyond general safety requirements that all products must meet.
Under this legislation, manufacturers must make an explicit declaration that their products are safe. This declaration includes affixing the CE marking on the product. Importers have to verify that the manufacturer has undertaken the steps necessary to fulfil the declaration while distributors must act with due care and be able to identify and withdraw products that are unsafe
It is important to know that the CE marking does not indicate that products have been approved as safe by the European Union or by another authority. Nor, for example, does it indicate the origin of a product!
As mentioned above manufacturers have to make sure that their products comply with the relevant safety requirements. They do this, for example, by evaluating the possible risks and by testing samples of the product. Once they have done this, they must affix the CE marking on the product.
For certain products that present inherently higher risks, such as gas boilers or chainsaws, safety cannot be checked by the manufacturer alone. In such cases, an independent organisation, appointed by national authorities, has to perform the safety check. Only once this is done can the manufacturer affix CE marking on the product.