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Revision of EU CPR in 3rd Quarter 2021

Revision of the EU Construction Products Regulation is on the horizon. Will the CE declarations of performance finally be concretised and will the regulatory gap in environmental and health protection be closed?

The European Construction Products Regulation [EU CPR 305/2011] requires manufacturers of construction products to draw up a declaration of performance for their products with evidence of the sustainable use of resources and compliance with requirements relating to a low impact on the quality of the environment and the earth's climate over the entire life cycle, energy efficiency in manufacturing, and hygiene, health compatibility and safety of the people involved. With reference to this European regulation, national regulations, in particular national approval regulations for construction products, were declared invalid because they violated trade law. 

For example, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) invalidated the regulation of the German Institute for Construction Technology (DIBT) that certain construction products for indoor use must meet requirements for the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC). This prompted the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and the DIBT to include this test requirement in the building codes of the federal states via an administrative regulation (MVV TB). This was because they were able to point out that there is still no regulation at European level for a declaration of performance in the area of indoor air hygiene. This created a gap in health protection. In particular, the manufacturers of wood-based materials appealed (in some cases successfully) against this national/regional regulation.

In fact, the EU Construction Products Regulation has considerable regulatory gaps. For years, the working groups set up by the EU have not been able to agree on common rules on how the declarations of performance with regard to environmental quality, resource protection, energy efficiency or health compatibility and low emissions should look. In the absence of harmonised regulations, building material manufacturers therefore generally do not issue a declaration of performance in all these areas that are important for sustainability and simply declare NPD (No Performance Declared). 

Announcement by the European Commission

Now the European Commission has announced a revision of the Construction Products Regulation for the 3rd quarter of 2021. This is also already announced in the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan. The aim of the revision is to tackle the problems related to the development of harmonised technical specifications and, above all, the blocking of standardisation. According to the Commission, the revision is intended to "establish a framework for requirements for construction products in relation to the environment and the circular economy, thus contributing to increased energy and material efficiency in buildings". The aim is to "improve market surveillance and solve the still existing problems regarding national labels or additional national requirements or tests". Furthermore, "a framework for the development and implementation of environmental and sustainability criteria for construction products shall be established".

Previously, an evaluation of the existing implementation problems had taken place, which was discussed in a debate and a resolution of the European Parliament on 10 March. The report, prepared by Bavarian MEP Christian Doleschal (CSU), which was adopted almost unanimously by the Parliament, came to the recommendation that precise and clear information on the safety of construction products and their conformity with national requirements had to be provided to end consumers. The rapporteur also called on the Commission to consider the introduction of minimum product requirements, which would ensure the health and safety of citizens and the protection of the environment and counteract the fragmentation of the internal market. 

Parliament called on the Commission not to wait any longer with the revision so that the process of standardisation can be made "greener and easier to use". “With today’s vote, we as a Parliament have taken a clear position on the upcoming revision of the regulation by the Commission. The Construction Products Regulation must be made fit for the future in light of digitalisation and sustainability”, Doleschal said. “The upcoming revision of the Construction Products Regulation is an opportunity to adopt ambitious environmental performance requirements to make this sector compliant with the commitments in the Green Deal”, said shadow rapporteur Claude Gruffat (Greens/EFA, France). 

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