Policies and legislation for the construction sector
The European Union has put in place a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework for the construction sector. Health and safety in construction and the free movement of engineering/construction services and products are important policy priorities. Concerning the construction activity itself, the focus is on the competitiveness of the sector, not least in the field of sustainable construction.
European legislation defines the essential requirements that goods must meet when they are placed on the market and the European standardisation bodies have the task of drawing up the corresponding technical specifications. The free movement of products and services is now facilitated by the EU-wide implementation of common European technical standards for structural design: the Eurocodes.
The following Regulations and Directives are related to the EN Eurocodes:
- Construction Products Regulation;
- Public Procurement Directive;
- Services Directive;
- Directive on the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations.
The objective of the Construction Products Regulation is to achieve the proper functioning of the internal market for construction products by establishing harmonised rules on how to express their performance. Technical specifications shall be based on seven Basic Requirements for construction works:
- Mechanical resistance and stability
- Safety in case of fire
- Hygiene, health and the environment
- Safety and accessibility in use
- Protection against noise
- Energy economy and heat retention
- Sustainable use of natural resources.
According to the Public Procurement Directive, contracting authorities in the EU must allow the use of the Eurocodes in structural design aspects of tenders.
The Single Market is about bringing down barriers and simplifying rules to enable everyone in the EU to make the most of the opportunities offered by having direct access to 28 countries and almost 500 million people.
Declaration of performance is the key concept for the removal of technical barriers in the construction products sector. It expresses the performance of products in accordance with the relevant technical specifications.
Harmonised European Standards provide a common language to express technical requirements and declare product performance. For construction products that are not covered or not fully covered by a harmonised standard, a European Technical Assessment is issued on the basis of a European Assessment Document.
CE marking follows the declaration of performance. It indicates a product's compliance with EU legislation and so enables its free movement within the European Economic Area.
The EN Eurocodes are intended to be used as reference documents to determine the performance of construction products. They give a presumption of conformity with the basic requirements for mechanical resistance and stability, resistance to fire and safety in use.