Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Directive

Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Directive

The Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment Directive 1999/5/EC establishes a regulatory framework for placing and putting into service radio and telecommunications terminal equipment (R&TTE) on the free market.

What is the R&TTE Directive about and why is it important?

The R&TTE Directive covers all equipment that uses the radio frequency spectrum, with a few exceptions. It also covers all terminal equipment attached to public telecommunication networks. Typical products which are covered by the Directive include radio-terminals (e.g. GSM handsets); other radio equipment (e.g. GSM base stations, car-door openers and other short range radio devices); fixed network terminal equipment (e.g. normal analogue telephones, ISDN terminals, cable and PC modems). The main aspects of the Directive are:

  • Conformity of a product with the requirements of the Directive
    • Assessment of the conformity of a product with the requirements of the Directive is the responsibility of the manufacturer;
    • Fixed network terminal equipment must comply with electrical safety and electromagnetic compatibility requirements;
    • Radio equipment must effectively use the spectrum and not cause harmful interference. In exceptional cases the EU can introduce additional public interest requirements;
    • Requirements are legal, not technical.
  • Obligation for network operators to publish their interfaces
    • The Directive obliges operators of public telecommunications services to publish the characteristics of their interfaces, thereby allowing any manufacturer to construct terminal equipment that can be attached to that network.
  • Obligation for Member States to publish the rules to access the radio frequency spectrum
    • The radio frequency spectrum is not fully harmonised in the EU. The Directive doesn't harmonise the spectrum. It is therefore of major interest to manufacturers to be fully aware of national differences in allocation and usage. Member States therefore are committed to publishing those details that allow manufacturers to build products capable of operating in as large a market as possible.
  • Obligation for manufacturers to inform the end user of intended use and limitations of use
    • The Directive obliges manufacturers to inform users of the intended use and the limitations of use both on the packaging and in the manual.

New Radio Equipment Directive

The European Parliament and Council Directive on Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment (1999/5/EC) was revised in 2014 to become the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU.

This new directive will be applicable from 13 June 2016 and aligns the previous directive with the New Legislative Framework for the marketing of products.

The revision takes account of the need for improved market surveillance, in particular for the traceability obligations of manufacturers, importers and distributors. It provides improved instruments for market surveillance, such as the possibility to require prior registration of radio equipment, within those categories affected by low levels of compliance

What does the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) aim to achieve?

The Directive ensures a single market for radio equipment by setting essential requirements for safety and health, electromagnetic compatibility and the efficient use of the radio spectrum. This applies to all products using the radio frequency spectrum.

Implementation of the Radio Equipment Directive is regularly discussed with representatives from EU countries at Telecommunication Conformity Assessment and Market Surveillance Committee (TCAM) meetings. EU Member States are expected to continuously improve their national systems of market surveillance, both in a preventative and corrective way.

Equipment classes

Equipment classes are defined by Article 4.1 of the Directive. The European Commission has adopted a Decision laying down an initial classification – called Commission Decision 2000/299/EC of 6 April 2000. The decision identifies two classes:

Class 1 equipment is equipment that can be placed on the market and be put into service without restrictions as indicated in Article 1(1) of the Decision. The Commission, in consultation with Member States, publishes an indicative and non-exhaustive list of equipment falling within the scope of Class 1: Subclasses of Class 1 - December 2014 (2 MB)

Class 2 equipment is equipment for which Member States apply restrictions as indicated in Article 1(2) of the Decision, which also assigns the Alert Sign as Equipment Class Identifier for this class. The following subclasses of Class 2 correspond to radio equipment using harmonised frequency bands for which, in consequence, notification in accordance with Article 6(4) of the Directive is not necessary: Subclasses of Class 2 - December 2014 (300 kB)


A Guide (369 kB) is available to assist with the common application of Directive 1999/5/EC. It has no weight in law but deals with a number of practical issues that will be of interest to manufacturers and other stakeholders.

A quick guide (94 kB) on the obligations of manufacturers under the R&TTE Directive is also available.

Other Guidance and Specific Topics

Cordless telephones

Aeronautical equipment

Health & Safety

Mobile Communication Seminars: "Health, Environment and Safety

Standardisation mandate addressed to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI in the field of electrotechnology, information technology and telecommunications.

Press Release 06/08/2001: Safer mobile phones: European Commission publishes new safety standard on electromagnetic fields.

Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz).

Information on electromagnetic fields from DG Health and Food Safety

World Health Organization (WHO) Publications page on electromagnetic fields (EMF) - EMF Project Fact Sheet: Base stations and wireless networks.

One-stop notification procedure (OSN)

Working Groups

  • TCAM public documents - The TCAM (Telecommunications Conformity Assessment and Market Surveillance Committee) is the standing Committee assisting the Commission in the management of Directive 1999/5/EC. This Interest Group on CIRCABC was set-up to facilitate the exchange of documents between Member States and the Commission;
  • Opinion of TCAM on the interpretation of the Directive;
  • Implementation status of Directive 1999/5/EC;
  • R&TTE Working Group public documents - The working group discusses issues arising from the application of the R&TTE Directive, Directive 1999/5/EC on radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment. The group is chaired by the Commission and brings together public authorities, standardisation bodies, notified bodies, industry associations, consumer representatives and other organisations as appropriate;


Notified Bodies

Reports & Studies

A workshop 'Receiver performance of mobile phone antennas (324 kB)' was organised on 10th of April 2014 (programme (156 kB)). The results of the study have been presented for clarifying the situation and envisage possible future actions in this field.

Possible ways to improve receivers’ performances of mobile telephones in the market have been debated with main involved actors, mobile phone industry, mobile operators, consumers’ associations, national authorities, etc.


R&TTE ADCO publications

The Administrative Cooperation (ADCO for R&TTE) is an independent Working Group run and chaired by the Member States. It is a forum for cooperation and exchange of information between national market surveillance authorities.


Workshop: Wireless resources for Advanced Manufacturing (2014) (898 kB)

The development and uptake of advanced manufacturing is essential for the future of EU industry. Wireless applications are a key enabler of advanced manufacturing and increasingly present in the manufacturing environment. Therefore a workshop was organised by the Commission to ensure the needs of advanced manufacturing are fully integrated in the policies for spectrum management and related standardisation.

R&TTE and sustainability

One Charger for All

Harmonisation of mobile phones chargers is a key priority of the Commissions environmental sustainability policy.

The environmental benefits of harmonising chargers can be considerable, as the number of chargers sold unnecessarily could reduce the associated generated electronic waste. A common charger is also expected to improve energy-efficiency, complying with the newest European harmonised standards, and thus reducing energy consumption.

To this end, the Commission has initiated the 'One Charger for All' campaign.

Waste and Electronic Equipment

The WEEE Directive promotes the collection and recycling of electronic equipment (Directive 2012/19/EU). It provides for the creation of collection schemes where consumers return their used e-waste free of charge.

The RoHS Directive (2011/65/EU) restricts the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

Contact Points