Both, European directives and European standards, come in the following three forms:
- Type A: Basic EU directives and standards – they usually apply to most of the products. As examples of such directives can be mentioned the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) and the Product Liability Directive (85/374/EEC), as well as the Conformity Assessment Procedures and CE Marking Rules (93/465/EEC). The standards explicitly associated with these EU Directives contain general safety principles in regards to the product design or principles related to measurement techniques and levels.
- Type B: Generic EU directives and standards – they address a specific range or group of products, such as those falling within the scope of the Low Voltage Directive (2014/35/EU) or Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (2014/30/EU). In regards to machinery, the B standards are further divided into B1 standards (applicable to specific aspects, such as safety distances and surface temperatures) and B2 standards (applicable to particular safety devices or components, e.g. Safety Switching Devices).
- Type C: Product - specific EU directives and standards – all directives and standards of type C apply to ‘regulated’ products. For instance, product-specific EU directives are the Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC), Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) and Medical Devices Directive (2007/47/EC).
The top-level directives and standards, as it can be seen in the figure below, are the product-specific ones, i.e. type C, and they take precedence over type A and B.
Figure 1. Types of European directives and standards
Source: Tricker, Ray (2000)