EU Proposal to the United States on an Agreement on Conformity Assessments

The United States and the EU Commission have been negotiating trade agreements to reduce industrial goods tariffs and mutual recognition of conformity assessments since spring 2019. At the end of November 2019, the European Commission published its proposal for an agreement in the field of conformity assessments. This would remove bureaucratic hurdles and thus benefit both negotiating partners.

At the heart of the current EU proposal is that legally binding conformity assessments in the United States and the EU can now also be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the partner country's legal framework. In order to make this possible, test and audit institutions in one economic area should be able to obtain accreditation of the other party. The EU proposal contains detailed rules on such licensing, as well as positive and negative lists of sectors for which such audit licenses should be possible. In addition, several special arrangements are laid down. The proposal is explicit on the point that no requirements or rules of the other party are adopted, and the regulatory authority is not restricted. The respective standards and provisions of the two parties thus are expressly not affected.

BDI welcomes the EU proposal. It is good to reduce bureaucratic hurdles in international trade with the United States, the EU’s most important economic partner. Companies on both sides of the Atlantic would benefit from such an agreement – on the one hand, through a common market for audit institutions. On the other hand, the mutual recognition of test data and results of certified audit institutions would eliminate unnecessary double tests for components already approved. 

Furthermore, progress in the area of conformity assessments can provide a positive impetus for the negotiations on the reduction of industrial goods tariffs. An industrial goods agreement would give the closely intertwined economies of the EU and the United States cost advantages on the world market.