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    The free movement of goods and services is one of the main objectives of the European Union. National technical regulations must be formulated in such a way that they do not create technical barriers to trade that are unjustified, too restrictive or otherwise contrary to European Union law. To ensure this, a notification procedure has been established in accordance with Directive (EU) 2015/1535. With some exceptions (see Article 7 of EU Directive 2015/1535), EU countries must notify the Commission and other Member States of any draft technical regulation before it is adopted into national law. From the date of notification, a standstill period of at least three months is established, during which the EU country must refrain from adopting the technical regulation concerned. This procedure allows the European Commission and the other Member States to examine the draft technical regulation of a given Member State.

    Through this information, prevention and dialogue tool, national barriers to trade that are unjustified, disproportionate to the objective pursued, or otherwise contrary to European Union law are defused as far as possible.

    For Belgium, the FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy centralises notifications via the Belnotif unit (be.belnotif@economie.fgov.be).

    What is meant by a technical regulation?

    A technical regulation is a draft technical specification or other requirement or rule on services, the observance of which is compulsory, de jure or de facto, in the case of marketing, provision of a service, establishment of a service operator or use in a Member State or a major part thereof.

    In addition, there are legal and administrative provisions of the Member States (with the exception of the provisions of Article 7 of Directive (EU) 2015/1535) prohibiting the manufacture, importation, marketing or use of a product or prohibiting the provision or use of a service, or establishment as a service provider.

    Directive (EU) 2015/1535 defines “a product” as any industrially manufactured product and any agricultural product, including fish products.

    A “technical specification” describes the characteristics of a product, i.e:

    • quality level, performance, safety or dimensions;
    • requirements relating to the name under which the product is sold, terminology, symbols, testing and test methods, packaging, marking or labelling;
    • conformity assessment procedures.

    The Directive also defines the concept of “other requirement”, which means a requirement imposed on a product for the purpose of protecting consumers or the environment, and which affects its life cycle after it has been placed on the market, such as conditions of use, recycling, reuse or disposal, where such conditions can significantly influence the composition or nature of the product or its marketing.

    A “rule on services” refers to a specific requirement relating to the access to and exercise of information society service activities (provisions relating to the service provider, the services, and the recipient of services). An “information society service” is a service normally provided for remuneration, remotely, by electronic means and at the individual request of a recipient of services.

    Any technical regulation must serve a legitimate public interest and be proportionate to it.

    Notification of a draft technical regulation

    In order to remove possible obstacles to the free movement of goods and services, each authority must notify a draft technical regulation to the European Commission and the other Member States before its adoption into national law.

    However, in order to avoid unnecessary renotification during the procedure, the draft technical regulation should be notified when it is sufficiently stable and mature, i.e. when the elements which are relevant for the notification are not likely to change significantly after the notification has been made.

    The notification must be made by completing the notification message (PDF, 307.41 KB) in full and submitting it together with the draft text (unilingual Word version). The notifying authority must also use this form  (DOCX, 59.5 KB)to confirm the completeness and accuracy of the texts provided.

    Any text that may help to understand the draft technical regulation may also be attached to the aforementioned necessary documents. This includes basic texts, impact studies, technical annexes, specific reports, etc.

     Please refer to the
    detailed instructions for
    the notification of draft technical regulations (PDF, 794.49 KB)
    .  

    For Belgium, the FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy centralises notifications via the Belnotif unit ( be.belnotif@economie.fgov.be).

    The Belnotif unit submits the notification via the TRIS (Technical Regulation Information System) database of the European Commission. The relevant information from the notifications is publicly available.

    Failure to comply with the notification requirement may result in the measure being stated as inapplicable by a national court. The measure is then unenforceable against third parties. Furthermore, non-compliance could lead to an infringement procedure by the European Commission under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If there is any doubt as to the need for notification, the procedure should be started.

    Examination of the drafts

    With a few exceptions, the Commission and the other Member States have at least three months to analyse the drafts and to respond. During this period, referred to as the “standstill period”, these drafts may not be adopted or published in the Belgian Official Gazette.

    If the technical rule is significantly modified during this standstill period, renotification will be necessary, with a new standstill period. Significant changes include shortening the original implementation schedule, extending the scope, adding new requirements, or tightening the requirements.

    Responses

    The Commission and the Member States can formulate three types of response:

    • a request for additional information which does not extend the “standstill period” but to which the Member State concerned must respond;
    • comments, which do not extend the “standstill period”, to which the Member State concerned is under no obligation to respond, but which it should take into account as far as possible;
    • a detailed opinion, which extends the “standstill period” by one or three months, to which the Member State concerned must respond and which it must take into account.

    If there is a response to a Belgian notification, the notifying authority is informed by the Belnotif unit. If the notifying authority responds, this must be done by means of the “type response message (PDF, 456.04 KB)”, which must be sent to the Belnotif unit.

    Failure to comply with the reaction procedure may result in the European Commission initiating an infringement procedure under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

    At the end of the standstill period, the notifying authority may adopt and publish its text in the Belgian Official Gazette. This final text should be sent in a unilingual Word version to the Belnotif unit (be.belnotif@economie.fgov.be) in order to administratively close the notification procedure.

    If a Belgian authority wants to respond to a foreign notification, it can do so by sending the “type response message (PDF, 456.04 KB)” to the Belnotif unit.

    Please refer to the
    detailed instructions to respond
    to a foreign notification (PDF, 541.59 KB)
    .

    Federations, companies and individuals may submit their comments, observations and views under the “Contributions” section of the TRIS pub

    Receive the foreign notifications that interest you

    You can automatically receive an e-mail when a new draft technical regulation is notified in your area of interest. Simply subscribe to the European Commission's mailing list. The instruction to subscribe to foreign notification (PDF, 984.83 KB) tells you how to proceed.

    Relevant documentation

    Vademecum of Directive (EU) 2015/1535

    Case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union

    Last update
    21 February 2022