In Europe, the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC is the main legal basis for any company that designs, builds or sells machines. Machines that are imported into the area of European jurisdiction also have to meet the requirements of the Machinery Directive. The current Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC was published in 2006 and has been mandatory since 29 December 2009.
The EU Commission checks the provisions and directives regularly to ensure they are adapted to the new requirements and developments. Such a verification process was also performed with the Machinery Directive. In 2016 the EU commission conducted a public consultation on the Machinery Directive with the users of the provision. The results of the enquiry led to an impact analysis for the renewal of the Directive. After that the public had the opportunity to submit feedback and suggestions for a solution.
The assessment concluded that the Machinery Directive in general is relevant, effective, efficient and coherent and that it constitutes added value for the EU. However, specific improvements and simplifications are necessary. Each revision of the Machinery Directive must provide greater legal clarity, simplification and adaptation to technical progress. In the case of the current Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, the following items were criticised in the official statement:
- Lack of coherence with the more comprehensive EU framework (new approach) and problems in implementation.
- Lack of legal clarity regarding the scope and definitions. The experience in implementing the directive points to some legal uncertainties in some of its provisions.
- Challenges created by technical progress in digitisation, for example due to artificial intelligence and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things).
The EU commission has published an official “schedule” for revision of the Machinery Directive. It can be viewed on the EU homepage.
Future planning provides for the EU Commission to publish a new Machinery Directive by approx. mid 2021, but this is non-binding. If we assume roughly that there will be one year of consultation and a two-year transition period, the application of the revised Machinery Directive is to be expected from 2024.