EU Directive 2015/1535 came into force on 7 October 2015, replacing the earlier Directive 98/34/EC. The aim of the Directive is to prevent new technical barriers to trade being created between Member States. As the Single Market is an area without internal borders, the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital should be guaranteed.
The Directive requires Member States to notify all draft technical regulations concerning industrially manufactured products and agricultural products, as well as information society services, through the TRIS system before they are adopted into national law.
How TRIS works
Notifications by Member States through TRIS are made at the draft stage (that is, when the text can still be amended). In the case of primary legislation, this notification procedure should take place before the final version of the Bill is forwarded to Government for approval to publish.
- The notification triggers a standstill period of 3 months during which the technical regulation cannot be adopted by the Member State in question. The EU Commission, other Member States and the public can use this time to examine the notified draft technical regulation and may submit a comment (EU Commission, Member States and public) or a detailed opinion (EU Commission and Member States) to the draft if they deem that the notified text may create barriers to the free movement of goods or the free provision of information society services.
- If there is no reaction the draft can be adopted the day after the 3-month standstill period has expired.
- If a comment is issued the notifying Member State has no formal obligation to reply. However, the comments must be considered as far as possible in its subsequent work on the draft technical regulation. The technical regulation can then be adopted the day after the 3-month standstill period has expired.
- If a detailed opinion is issued by the Commission or another Member State, the standstill period is extended to 6 months for products and 4 months for information society services and voluntary agreements. The Member State submitting the legislation must take into account the detailed opinion and reply to it, explaining the actions it intends to take in response. It may propose revoking the draft text, give justification for retaining it or propose amending certain provisions so that they are compatible with EU law.
- The extended standstill period allows for a dialogue with the notifying Member State. This dialogue can continue as long as the notified draft technical regulation has not been adopted.
- The Commission can also block a draft technical regulation for a period of 12 months which may be further extended to 18 months if EU harmonisation work is planned or is already underway in the same field.
The notification procedure ends when the technical regulation is adopted, and final text of the legislation is communicated to the Commission by the Member State.
Failure to notify a relevant regulation can render that regulation unenforceable.
What kinds of technical regulations need to be notified through TRIS?
The scope of the Directive is broad and can include primary and secondary legislation, laws, regulations or administrative circulars, administrative provisions, departmental guidelines, advice notes, codes of practice, voluntary agreements and also technical specifications or rules on services that are linked to fiscal or financial measures affecting the consumption of products or services by encouraging compliance with technical specifications.
Types of technical regulations within scope
Industrially manufactured products
If the proposed technical regulations concern industrially manufactured products or agricultural products, they are likely notifiable if:
- They introduce or amend a prohibition on the manufacture, importation, marketing or use of a product
- They specify (or amend a specification relating to) the characteristic of a product such as the levels of quality, safety or performance or its dimensions or requirements as to: A. The name under which the product is sold; B. Terminology or symbols; C. Testing of the product (inc test methods); D. Packaging, marking or labelling; or E. Conformity assessment procedures
- They cover production methods and processes in relation to any of the following: A. agricultural products, B. products intended for human and animal consumption, C. medicinal products, D. other products where the characteristics of the product are affected.
- They impose or amend any requirements which apply after the product has been placed on the market and which might significantly influence: A. the composition of a product, B. the nature of the product, C. the marketing of the product, (including in particular rules to protect consumers or the environment).
Information society services
If the proposed technical regulations concern information society services, they are likely notifiable if the following points apply:
- They relate to a service normally provided for remuneration
- They relate to a service provided by electronic means
- They relate to a service provided at a distance without the parties being present
- The service is provided through the transmission of data at the request of a person
- The draft rules impose (or amend) requirements on the take up and pursuit of a service provided electronically in particular provisions concerning: A. the service provider; B. the services; C. the recipient of the services
- The specific aim or object of the draft rules is to regulate information society services (i.e. electronic services) in an explicit or targeted way
- The draft rules prohibit (or amend a prohibition relating to) the provision or use of a service, or establishment as a service provider.
The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is the National contact point under this Directive. NSAI process notifications, comments, and detailed opinions through the TRIS portal and communications from the EU to and from Ireland.
Further information about the TRIS system and access to the TRIS database can be accessed by clicking on the links below: