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techUK concerned over implementation of the Radio Equipment Directive

A lack of harmonised standards ahead of the Directive’s June 13 deadline is creating compliance risks.

As the 13 June 2017 implementation date for the Radio Equipment Directive draws near, techUK has outlined concerns to government that manufacturers will struggle to meet the deadline because of a lack of harmonised standards to confirm legal conformity. Whilst the UK has yet to transpose the Directive, this situation could still impact on UK exporters and the UK government should support industry in pushing for a pragmatic solution.

The Radio Equipment Directive replaces an existing Directive, the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (R&TTE), aligning it with the New Legislative Framework and Standardisation Regulation. The Directive, with a few exemptions, impacts any electrical or electronic product which intentionally emits or receives radio waves. It covers any battery or mains powered products (i.e. those that have wi-fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee) and those that can use radio to determine a location (i.e. GPS). It means that the Directive will impact many more products that the R&TTE Directive, particularly given the ever increasing numbers of IoT devices.

Under the Directive, manufacturers of impacted products can demonstrate conformity with the rules by complying with harmonised standards. In 2015, the Commission issued a request to two European standardisation bodies – ETSI and CENELEC – to prepare the necessary standards. However, they have struggled with the workload, particularly with how to deal with combined equipment (equipment which has some kind of separable radio module) after ETSI’s original standard was rejected by the Commission. Only a few are ready to be used.

There is an alternative means available to manufacturers to demonstrate compliance. Manufacturers can approach Notified Bodies to get individual products tested – however companies are concerned that few notified bodies will have the capacity and expertise to deal with the number of products that will be impacted. The harmonised standards are therefore urgently needed to make sure products can get approved and into the marketplace.

Late December, the Commission said that there were prepared to allow a carry-over of existing R&TTE standards that correspond to those planned under RED for a period of 18 months providing ETSI publish a timetable for when the new standards will be published. However this does not deal with all the standards the manufacturers need to comply with the new rules.

techUK and Digital Europe have been seeking clarification from the UK Government and EU institutions and we encourage them to push this work forward to ensure that products are not kept off the market.


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