While manufacturers are responsible for ensuring product compliance and affixing the CE marking, distributors (and importers) also play an important role in making sure that only products which comply with the legislation and bear the CE marking are placed on the market. Not only does this help to reinforce the EU’s health, safety and environmental protection requirements, it also supports fair competition with all players being held accountable to the same rules.
Distributors must act with due care to ensure that their handling of the product does not adversely affect its compliance. The distributor must also have a basic knowledge of the legal requirements – including which products must bear the CE marking and the accompanying documentation – and should be able to identify products that are clearly not in compliance.
Distributors must be able to demonstrate to national authorities that they have acted with due care and have affirmation from the manufacturer or the importer that the necessary measures have been taken. Furthermore, a distributor must be able to assist national authorities in their efforts to receive the required documentation.
If distributors (or importers) market the products under their own names, they then take over the manufacturer’s responsibilities. In this case they must have sufficient information on the design and production of the product, as they will be assuming the legal responsibility when affixing the CE marking.
Not all products sold in the EU need to bear CE marking. CE marking applies to products, ranging from electrical equipment to toys and from civil explosives to medical devices. Such products fall under one or more Directives which determine the specific requirements that the product must meet in order to be CE marked. See the full list of these product categories.