EU Radio Equipment Directive Compliance Deadline Approaches
Monday, May 01, 2017 | Comments
As the 13 June deadline for compliance with the European Union’s (EU) new Radio Equipment Directive (RED) approaches, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is working to prepare as many harmonized standards as it can.

After 13 June, a product cannot be placed on the market in the EU unless it complies with the RED. A product is presumed to conform with the RED if it conforms to harmonized standards cited in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU), said Michael Sharpe, director spectrum and equipment regulation for ETSI, during a webinar updating the status of the harmonized standards.

That’s where ETSI comes in. In 2015, the European Commission tasked ETSI with developing a set of harmonized standards that would provide compliance with the RED. A manufacturer can self-declare compliance with the RED if its product conforms to the cited harmonized standards, Sharpe said.

Products that conform to the harmonized standards must be allowed on the markets of all EU member states. If a member state feels a product is not compliant, there is a process it can follow to dispute that, but the burden of proof falls on the member state and not the manufacturer, Sharpe said.

There are alternatives to complying with the harmonized standards for a product, but a manufacturer must gain approval through a notifying body before it can place a product that doesn’t meet the standards on the market.

Of 169 harmonized standards for the RED, 98 have been cited in the OJEU and another 26 have been published and should be cited by the compliance deadline, said Sharpe.

“We’ve done our best to have the max number of harmonized standards available and cited in the journal,” Sharpe said. “There are some that are not ready, but we knew that would be the case going in.”

When 13 June hits, for products that fall under standards not yet cited in OJEU, manufacturers will need to go through a notifying body to go to market, Sharpe said.

Ten standards related to the professional mobile radio (PMR) have been cited in the journal. Several electromagnetic compatibility standards related to PMR are awaiting approval from the commission.

According to charts used in the webinar, ETSI expects to have 144 of the 169 harmonized standards cited by the end of 2017, with 22 more following in 2018, and the three remaining standards reaching completion in 2019.

Just because a standard is cited in the OJEU does not mean that work on that standard is fully done. Many standards cited in the OJEU were cited on the basis that modifications still had to be made, Sharpe said.

Of the 98 currently cited, 57 are under review for some potential changes, he added.

Passed in 2014, the RED takes the place of the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment directive (R&TTED), which went into effect in 1999. Following the 13 June deadline, any radio equipment placed on the market in the EU must comply with the RED.

The RED went into effect in June 2016, followed by a one-year transition period where manufacturers can still put equipment complying with the R&TTED on the market. That transition period ends 13 June.

One of the big changes between the RED and the R&TTED is that the RED applies to any product that transmits or receives radio waves for communications or radio-determination, regardless of whether radio is the main purpose of that product, Sharpe said. So, for example, a smart refrigerator would fall under the directive.

There are a few exclusions for things such as public security and defense, radio amateur equipment that is not placed on the market, and marine and airborne equipment that follows other regulations, but, in general, if a product has a radio chip, it falls under the RED, Sharpe said.

“It covers a far larger product range than the previous directive did,” he said. The other big change is that the previous directive was mostly focused on a product avoiding harmful interference around it and not on protecting that product from interference. The new directive emphasizes both of those and seeks to have radio equipment use spectrum as efficiently as possible, Sharpe said.

For ETSI’s work under the RED, the two key articles of the RED are Articles 3.2 and 3.3. Article 3.2 covers all of the requirements for devices efficiently and effectively using spectrum, while Article 3.3 covers additional requirements that the European Commission can invoke in the future if it deems it necessary.

Manufacturers do not have to comply with requirements listed under Article 3.3 unless the European Commission uses an act to enact those specific requirements in the future.

“It gives the commission a slightly extended toolbox of things that it can introduce if it sees the need to so,” Sharpe said.

Article 3.1 of the RED covers requirements for health and safety, as well as electromagnetic compatibility. ETSI is working on some of the electromagnetic compatibility guidelines along with other agencies. The health and safety guidelines do not fall under ETSI’s purview. Products do not have to comply with the electromagnetic compatibility requirements to be placed on the market.

To help the industry better understand the new directive, an RED guide will be released soon. Sharpe said that manufacturers and others who have questions about or need help with complying with the directive, should refer to that guide.

More information on the RED is available on the European Commission’s website. The status of the different harmonized standards is available on ETSI’s harmonized standards page.

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