Legal metrology is the science of measurement. It is very important for trade and our everyday lives. No market can function without correct measuring and without common units of measurement. The EU’s legislation on legal metrology is one of the pillars of the single market for products. EU requirements aim to promote technological innovation, protection of health, public safety, protection of the environment and fair trade.
The European system of units of measurements stems from the International System of Units (SI). The SI serves as a global standard. More on units of measurement.
Measuring instruments harmonised by EU law range from weighing scales and utility meters to taximeters. In 2010, the annual turnover of the sector was estimated at €7 billion.
The European Commission mandate (782 kB) to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI in the field of measuring instruments is leading to the creation of European standards that will enable interoperability of utility meters (water, gas, electricity and heat) and enhance energy efficiency and user empowerment.
The 2015 mandate M/541 concerns new European standards for the non-exploitation of errors by water and heat meters, metering small-scale delivery of active electricity to the grid and use of energy by electrical vehicles. The new standards are expected to be delivered by the end of 2017.
EU pre-packaging legislation defines the quantity contained in pre-packaged products. It helps guarantee the net quantity in prepacks and the volume of product in bottles or jars. EU law requires national authorities to do regular market surveillance. EU law prohibits EU countries to legislate on sizes and it lays down fixed sizes for wine and spirit drinks.
Global harmonisation of measuring instruments is fairly advanced. To achieve even higher efficiency in this field, the EURAMET was established. It represents the national metrological organisations of EU and EFTA countries. The association coordinates the metrological activities of its members.
OIML is an intergovernmental organisation promoting the global harmonisation of legal metrology procedures. It ensures the certification of measuring devices is compatible around the world. This facilitates trade in measuring devices and the products relying on them. The EU recognises standards issued by OIML by publishing them in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The EU’s policy on legal metrology is supported by WELMEC, a body set up to promote European cooperation in legal metrology. WELMEC members are the national authorities responsible for legal metrology in EU and EFTA countries. Close cooperation with WELMEC and stakeholders is the main source of the EU's guidance documents and is essential for the application of EU law.