Blue Book

Guide to the implementation of directives based on the New Approach and the Global Approach

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The single market is one of the great achievements of our time. This economic space, where goods, services, capital and labour can circulate freely, provides a foundation for prosperity in the European Union as we move towards the 21st century. The European Union has developed original and innovative instruments to remove the barriers to free circulation of goods. Among these, the New Approach to product regulation and the Global Approach to conformity assessment take pride of place. The common thread between these complementary approaches is that they limit public intervention to what is essential and leave business and industry the greatest possible choice on how to meet their public obligations. Since 1987 some 20 directives, adopted on the basis of the New Approach and the Global Approach, have progressively come into force. The operation of any innovative system inevitably raises questions. A first Guide, intended to answer some of these, was published in 1994. This has now been updated and rewritten, on the basis of experience. We hope that this Guide will be helpful to those who want to do business in the single market and that it will assist those whose job it is to manage the market place. It will be an invaluable aid to the candidate countries of central and eastern Europe in taking over the New Approach and the Global Approach and the directives adopted following them. We dare to hope that it will also contribute to better understanding of these methods in other countries and may even lead them to adopt similar principles. A Guide can, at best, only draw out the meaning, significance and practical consequences of the directives to which it refers. It cannot replace a legal text, or change what the legislator has decided. However, it can elucidate the legal text by bringing to bear knowledge of the usage of the European Union and the provisions of the European Community Treaty and its derived law, including the case law of the European Court of Justice. The European Commission is uniquely well placed to do this. It has consulted widely in preparing the Guide and all opinions have been carefully considered. The Guide has been discussed with the Senior Officials Group on Standardisation and Conformity Assessment Policy, who agreed to its publication. As far as possible, it reflects a broad consensus. While this does not mean that it is the last word on anything, it certainly means that it represents an authoritative expression of opinion. This Guide has been drawn up by the Directorate-General for Enterprise in close cooperation with other Commission services, with contributions from Member State experts and interest groups. My thanks to all who have contributed to this enterprise.

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