Technical harmonisation in the EU

Technical harmonisation in the EU

Technical harmonisation in the EU is based on the Whole Vehicle Type-Approval System (WVTA). Under the WVTA, a manufacturer can obtain certification for a vehicle type in one EU country and market it EU-wide without further tests. The certification is issued by a type-approval authority and the tests are carried out by the designated technical services.

The legal basis

Directive 2007/46/EC sets out the safety and environmental requirements that motor vehicles have to comply with before being placed on the EU market. The Directive makes the EU-WVTA system mandatory for all categories of motor vehicles and their trailers. A large number of UNECE regulations are also made mandatory. These replace 38 Directives previously in force.

Review of Directive 2007/46/EC

On 7 December 2017, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement on a major overhaul of the EU type-approval framework for motor vehicles.

Under current rules, national authorities are solely responsible for:

  • certifying that a vehicle meets all requirements to be placed on the market
  • policing manufacturers' compliance with EU law

The new regulation will make vehicle testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation.

Approval authorities

Approval authorities are established or appointed by EU countries and notified to the Commission. The approval authorities have competence for:

  • all aspects of the approval of a type of vehicle, system, component or separate technical unit
  • the authorisation process
  • issuing and, if appropriate, withdrawing or refusing approval certificates
  • acting as the contact point for the approval authorities of other EU countries
  • designating the technical services
  • ensuring that the manufacturer meets his obligations regarding the conformity of production

Lists of approval authorities in the EU countries:

Certificate of conformity (CoC)

A certificate of conformity is a statement by the manufacturer that the vehicle conforms to EU type-approval requirements. EU countries cannot refuse to register vehicles if they are accompanied by a valid CoC that proves their compliance with EU law. The Commission has proposed simpler rules for the motor vehicle registration of a car already registered on one EU country to be registered in another.

Technical services

A technical service is an organisation or a body designated by the national approval authority as a:

  • testing laboratory to carry out tests
  • or as a conformity assessment body to carry out the initial assessment and other tests or inspections on behalf of the approval authority

EU countries have to notify the Commission of the name and details of designated technical services for:

Lists of technical services for each EU country: