Making the Grade

CE marking is an important indicator of European health and safety standards, a marketing advantage and a company’s trade passport.

“It gives people a level of confidence in your product,” he says.

Doing Business in the EU

Excerpts from “Doing Business in the European Union: 2009 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies,” U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce

  • Historically, U.S. exporters and investors have faced relatively low barriers to doing business in the EU.
  • With the current global financial crisis, trade protec- tionism may increase in the near future.
  • While the EU continues to move slowly in the direction of a single market, some U.S. exporters in some sec- tors face regulatory barriers to entry in the EU market. For example, the increased focus on environmental regulations and standards may present challenges for some.
  • Application of EU legislation is a responsibility of the European Commission but each member state can interpret and implement EU directives differently.

Also, the EU does not yet operate as a single customs administration and is working to modernize its EU Community Customs Code.

  • U.S. companies doing business in Europe should be aware of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (www., a forum for U.S. and European businesses that provides voluntary input on impediments to trans- atlantic business.

U.S. manufacturers of GSE can access a variety of international sales opportunities and free export counseling through the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service Aerospace Team. Aerospace Team Leader Danielle M. Dooley can be reached at 303-844-6623 x214

Also see “International Airport Development Opportunities November 2008 Update,” available from the U.S. Commerce Service at

Complying with the law
There can be costly consequences if a product on the market is found to be noncompliant. European national agencies, such as customs authorities and the departments of health, industry and labor conduct market surveillance for CE marking. Penalties for noncompliance include fines and imprisonment and are determined by national law.

“It’s important to make sure that all applicable requirements are fulfilled before a machine is placed on the market,” Holmgren says. “If a machine is involved in an accident, investigators always check if the CE marking is applied and if it’s correct.”

If a workplace safety inspector even suspects that the CE marking is missing or that regulations have not been fulfilled, he can stop a machine from being used, he says. EC authorities are then contacted and use of the machine is banned in all EU countries until the manufacturer has made all the machines safe or can prove that the regulations have been fulfilled.

Asking experts for help
“It is important for U.S. manufacturers to understand all requirements and standards applicable to their product for CE marking,” says Karen Grantham, an account executive for TUV SUD America’s Eastern Region. “In addition, they must prepare the proper documentation to support compliance to the applicable requirements. That is why it is advantageous to find a partner, who is knowledgeable, capable and authorized to assist in meeting the regulations.”

The fee for a third party will depend on the complexity of the product and how much testing is required, she says.

The time spent on product inspection and re-inspection also depends on how well a manufacturer has prepared documentation, test reports and how many deviations from the standards there are, Holmgren adds.

The help of a consultant can be expensive. Zuyderwijk takes a unique approach to CE marking with self-certification services. His Web site,, which has been up and running for 10 years now, provides a wealth of information for free. Zuyderwijk says one of the biggest CE certification myths is that the CE marking requires third-party certification. In almost 90 percent of the cases, he says that’s not true and self-certification can save a lot of time and money. His e-mail course and newsletter are free, but he also offers products for sale including an eBook and an online guidance system. And he, too, does consulting, conformity assessment and testing services.

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