Mutual recognition of goods in the EU
The principle of mutual recognition is based on free movement of goods within the Single Market. Goods lawfully sold in a Member State can be sold in all Member states, even if they do not comply with national technical and quality regulations of the other countries.
However, free movement of goods can be restricted under certain conditions if the aim is for example to protect the life and health of people, animals or plants. Authorities must give a separate decision on restricting free movement or denying access to the market.
Mutual recognition of goods applies in situations where the legislation or administrative provisions of a Member State lay down national requirements for products that are not subject to harmonisation at EU level.
EU Regulation on mutual recognition
The Regulation on mutual recognition (EU) 2019/515 primarily guides authorities in applying the principle of mutual recognition. Member States’ authorities must observe the obligations laid down in the regulation when they perform their duties, such as the assessment of goods.
When an authority intends to assess goods, it must contact the company without delay and give a notification on the assessment. The authority must also state which goods will be inspected and which national regulations or prior authorisation procedures will be applied. As a general rule, the company can place the products or continue placing the products on the market of the target Member State during the authority’s assessment unless the company is given an administrative decision that restricts or prohibits the placement of those products on the market.
Companies can also demonstrate that their products are lawfully marketed in another EU Member State by making a voluntary self-declaration. If the authority has not received a notification on mutual recognition, it can ask the company to provide the necessary documents and information in order to carry out the assessment. The company must be given at least 15 working days to submit the documents and information.
In addition, in some cases companies can use the single market problem-solving network (SOLVIT) to assess whether an authority has applied the principle of mutual recognition appropriately.
The regulation obligations apply to national authorities who apply national legislation or administrative provisions that have not been harmonised at EU level. The regulation applies to administrative decisions that affect market access of goods.
Administrative decision by an authority
If a national authority makes an administrative decision restricting free movement of goods, it must notify the company concerned, the other Member States and the European Commission of such measures. This decision can involve any administrative measures that restrict access to the market.
The administrative decision must provide sufficiently detailed and comprehensive reasoning to allow an assessment of its compliance with s the principle of mutual recognition and the requirements laid down in the Regulation.
The decision must include the following information:
- the national technical regulation the decision is based on;
- reasons regarding public interest that provide grounds for applying the national technical regulation on which the decision is based;
- the technical or scientific evidence that the authority has taken into account, including possible significant technical advancements since the national technical regulation came into force, if relevant;
- a summary of any justifications presented by the company that are relevant to the assessment of goods;
- evidence that the decision complies with the principle of proportionality.
The decision must also state the means of appeal based on national legislation and the time limits for appealing. It must also contain a reference to the possibility to utilise the SOLVIT problem solving procedure.