Reco­g­nis­ed or not? The prin­ci­ple of mutu­al reco­gni­ti­on in practice

To the ext­ent that a pro­duct that has not been har­mo­nis­ed or has not been ful­ly har­mo­nis­ed has been lawful­ly pla­ced on the mar­ket in one Mem­ber Sta­te, the sale of that pro­duct in ano­ther Mem­ber Sta­te may not, in prin­ci­ple, be pro­hi­bi­ted (as we repor­ted). This prin­ci­ple is based on the Cas­sis de Dijon decis­i­on of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­ti­ce and, accor­ding to EU Regu­la­ti­on 2019/515 on the mutu­al reco­gni­ti­on of goods, appli­es even if the tech­ni­cal pro­duct regu­la­ti­ons in the various Mem­ber Sta­tes differ.

Excep­ti­ons to the principle

Howe­ver, this prin­ci­ple does not app­ly wit­hout rest­ric­tion: Excep­ti­ons are to be per­mit­ted for com­pel­ling reasons of gene­ral inte­rest, such as the pro­tec­tion of health or for other con­su­mer pro­tec­tion reasons. Thus, the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ties of the Mem­ber Sta­tes may imple­ment dif­fe­rent regu­la­ti­ons and sys­tems for the con­trol of goods both befo­re and after a pro­duct is pla­ced on the market.

In some Mem­ber Sta­tes, the­r­e­fo­re, the pla­ce­ment of such pro­ducts on the mar­ket is sub­ject to for­mal appr­oval by the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ty of the Mem­ber Sta­te if the­re are spe­ci­fic natio­nal tech­ni­cal spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons for the pro­duct in that Mem­ber Sta­te. This pri­or aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re is an admi­nis­tra­ti­ve pro­ce­du­re under which the aut­ho­ri­ty for­mal­ly deci­des on the admis­si­bi­li­ty of the pla­ce­ment of the pro­duct on the mar­ket of the Mem­ber Sta­te. If the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ty refu­ses mar­ket access, it must inform the eco­no­mic ope­ra­tor con­cer­ned and the Com­mis­si­on within 20 days.

Howe­ver, even after being pla­ced on the mar­ket, goods can be asses­sed by the com­pe­tent mar­ket sur­veil­lan­ce aut­ho­ri­ties to deter­mi­ne whe­ther they were lawful­ly pla­ced on the mar­ket in the Mem­ber Sta­te of ori­gin or whe­ther the­re are legi­ti­ma­te public inte­rests that could, by way of excep­ti­on, jus­ti­fy a rest­ric­tion to mar­ket access.

Com­mon to all the­se pro­ce­du­res is that the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ties must inform the eco­no­mic ope­ra­tor con­cer­ned in advan­ce of the assess­ment, the con­tent of the assess­ment and the pri­or aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on procedure.

Self-declaration by the eco­no­mic operators

In respon­se to an announ­ced offi­ci­al pro­duct assess­ment, the eco­no­mic ope­ra­tor con­cer­ned may issue a self-declaration (cf. Annex to Regu­la­ti­on 2019/515), ther­eby decla­ring that the goods have been lawful­ly pla­ced on the mar­ket in ano­ther Mem­ber Sta­te. The fac­tu­al effect of such a self-declaration is that the aut­ho­ri­ty can­not demand any fur­ther evi­dence of the mar­ke­ta­bi­li­ty of the pro­duct bey­ond the pro­of of pro­duct con­for­mi­ty. Howe­ver, the vol­un­t­a­ry self-declaration does not, as a result, pre­vent the aut­ho­ri­ties from orde­ring a rest­ric­tion or deny­ing mar­ket access.


If a pro­duct has been denied mar­ke­ta­bi­li­ty in the Mem­ber Sta­te based on the com­pe­tent authority’s assess­ment, the SOLVIT net­work can be used as a problem-solving mecha­nism in cases of dis­pu­te. SOLVIT is a Euro­pean sys­tem of advice cen­tres that seeks a case solu­ti­on within a declared 10-week peri­od in the case of regu­la­ti­ons and decis­i­ons that vio­la­te appli­ca­ble EU law, and can thus pro­vi­de a spee­dy remedy.

Prac­ti­cal notes

Eco­no­mic ope­ra­tors who mar­ket non-harmonised or not ful­ly har­mo­nis­ed pro­ducts across bor­ders are advi­sed to obtain time­ly infor­ma­ti­on on the regu­la­ti­ons and sys­tems for con­trol of the­se goods as well as on the tech­ni­cal requi­re­ments in all Mem­ber Sta­tes whe­re the pro­duct is to be mar­ke­ted. For this pur­po­se, the respec­ti­ve pro­duct cont­act points of the count­ries can be cont­ac­ted to obtain infor­ma­ti­on on the appli­ca­ble tech­ni­cal pro­duct regu­la­ti­ons free of char­ge upon request within 15 working days. In par­al­lel, eco­no­mic ope­ra­tors should make use of the pos­si­bi­li­ty to issue a vol­un­t­a­ry self-declaration in order to speed up the assess­ment pro­ce­du­re of aut­ho­ri­ties as well as to limit their own admi­nis­tra­ti­ve bur­den. A spe­ci­men self-declaration can be found in the Annex to Regu­la­ti­on (EU) 2019/515. At a final level, the SOLVIT pro­cess pro­vi­des a free and via­ble way to expe­di­tious­ly resol­ve dis­pu­tes with authorities.


Stay up-to-date

We use your email address exclusively for sending our newsletter. You have the right to revoke your consent at any time with effect for the future. For further information, please refer to our privacy policy.