Mutual recognition ensures market access for products that are not subject to EU harmonisation. It guarantees that any product lawfully sold in one EU country can be sold in another. This is possible even if the product does not fully comply with the technical rules of the other country.
Technical rules developed at national levels may create unnecessary obstacles to inter-EU trade. The European Commission’s aims to:
The mutual recognition principle should not be mistaken for mutual recognition agreements that facilitate access to markets between the EU and non-EU countries.
The principle of mutual recognition stems from Regulation (EC) No 764/2008. It defines the rights and obligations for public authorities and enterprises that wish to market their products in another EU country. The Regulation also defines how a country can deny mutual recognition of a product.
The following indicative, non-binding guidance documents have been adopted to ease the application of the Regulation in specific sectors:
The Conclusions on Single Market Policy (Competitiveness Council of 2-3 December 2013) state that for improving the framework conditions for businesses and consumers in the Single Market, all relevant instruments, including mutual recognition, should be appropriately employed. The Commission was asked to identify sectors and markets where the application of the principle of mutual recognition is economically most advantageous but where its functioning is insufficient or problematic.
An evaluation was carried out between June 2014 and May 2015. It aimed at identifying shortcomings and possible ways to enhance the application of the principle of mutual recognition in the field of goods.
Evaluation of the Application of the mutual recognition principle in the field of goods – final report
The new Single Market Strategy "Upgrading the Single Market: More Opportunities for People and Business" sets out to achieve more and better mutual recognition in goods through: