Mutual recognition

Mutual recognition

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.

What the Commission does

Technical rules developed at national levels may create unnecessary obstacles to inter-EU trade. The European Commission’s aims to:

  • guarantee the free movement of goods;
  • make sure EU countries accept products lawfully sold in another EU country unless very specific conditions are met. These specific conditions relate to the protection of public safety, health, or the environment.

The mutual recognition principle should not be mistaken for mutual recognition agreements that facilitate access to markets between the EU and non-EU countries.

How does the principle work?

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.

Product contact points and products list

  • product contact points are established in each EU country. They help reduce the risk that a product does not get access to the market of the EU country of destination;
  • list of products are indicative and non-exhaustive. They show which products are not subject to the EU’s harmonisation legislation.

Guidance documents

The following indicative, non-binding guidance documents have been adopted to ease the application of the Regulation in specific sectors:

Report of the Commission

First report on the application of Regulation (EC) No 764/2008 - COM(2012) 292 final

Evaluation of mutual recognition of goods

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 goodsfinal 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:

  • an Action Plan to increase awareness of the principle of mutual recognition
  • a revised regulatory framework to ensure an effective right to free movement within the EU for products lawfully marketed in an EU country.

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