The EU and the “Ü” (UE)*

Some months ago, the European Union filed a complaint against the Federal Republic of Germany by charging that Germany had violated the Construction Products Regulations (BauPVO), imposed additional stipulations required for construction products to obtain effective access to the German market, and thereby impeded the free movement of goods within the EU. The bone of contention: the lists of German Construction Rules (Bauregellisten) and the Ü mark with which Germany until now imposes additional requirements on certain products for which, according to German standpoints, essential quality requirements were not included in other European standards. On 16 October 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in favor of the claimant (Case C-100/13).

The present decision primarily refers to only three particular groups of production products: i.e., pipe joints seals made of thermoplastic elastomer, insulating materials made of mineral wool and gates, windows and exterior doors. In principle, however, the decision also involves the fact that EU regulations have priority over national regulations. As a result, the judgment disquieted many manufacturers who serve the supplier industry, also in neighbouring segments of the construction sector.

The relevant authorities in Germany considerably delayed their comment on the case. Only now things are in movement in this issue. On 13 April, the German Institute for Construction Engineering (Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik, DIBt) commented on the court ruling: In the three specific instances faulted by the EU, the DIBt rendered invalid the regulations of the German Construction Rules. The committees of the German Conference of Construction Ministers are now deliberating “… what the consequences of this judgment may be for German Construction Products law.” As a result, this process could soon provide greater clarity for all market participants.↓

*Ü is a letter of the German alphabet. Originally it was spelled UE. Ü is also the the name of a mark attesting to      compliance of a product with German construction regulation.

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