The low voltage directive (LVD) (2014/35/EU) ensures that electrical equipment within certain voltage limits provides a high level of protection for European citizens, and benefits fully from the single market. It has been applicable since 20 April 2016.
The LVD covers health and safety risks on electrical equipment operating with an input or output voltage of between
It applies to a wide range of electrical equipment for both consumer and professional usage, such as
EU legislation in the electrical sector is important to ensure that health and safety requirements are the same across Europe for products placed on the market.
The general product safety directive (2001/95/EC) covers consumer goods with a voltage below 50 V for alternating current, or below 75 V for direct current. It aims to ensure that only safe consumer products are sold in the EU.
National authorities are responsible for implementing and enforcing the LVD – this is because they transpose the provisions of EU directives into their own national legislation.
These guidelines on the LVD have no weight in law, but they explain various elements of the directive and its application. The Commission drafted the guidelines in collaboration with stakeholders such as national authorities, industry bodies and standardisation bodies.
Economic operators can discuss specific implementation issues with national implementation authorities.
The LVD is aligned with the new legislative framework policy and has replaced Directive 2006/95/EC, while keeping the same scope and safety objectives. Guidance on the LVD transition from 2006/95/EC to 2014/35/EU is available.
Further guidance is available from the LVD working party (LVD WP) and LVD administrative cooperation working group (ADCO).
The working party (LVD WP) deals with general policy issues related to managing and implementing the LVD.
LVD WP is chaired by the Commission and involves groups such as
Documents produced by LVD WP are not legally binding – rather, they are designed to clarify certain provisions or elements of the LVD.
LVD ADCO is an independent working group run and chaired by EU countries. It provides a forum where national market surveillance authorities can cooperate and exchange information.
LVD ADCO produces documents such as recommendations and reports of cross-border market surveillance projects. These documents are not legally binding and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Commission or the LVD WP.
Market surveillance authorities can decide to apply the principles of LVD ADCO documents – but they must still comply with the LVD.
Article 9 of the Low Voltage Directive 2006/95/EC enabled the European Commission to issue 'opinions'. An 'opinion' is not law, but can be used as guidance.
Unlike LVD 2006/95/EC, under LVD 2014/35/EU only the references of the harmonised standards published in the OJEU give presumption of conformity with the safety objectives.
Current list of European harmonised standards under the LVD
To assess the performance of the Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU concerning its objectives, and to assess its effectiveness, efficiency, coherence with other legislation, relevance and EU added value, the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs commissioned an independent evaluation study.
The new LVD does not require notified bodies to assess if products to be placed on the market comply with the applicable EU legislation. The manufacturer alone is responsible for determining this by carrying out conformity assessment procedures.