Strasbourg, 3 May 2022
The Committee on the Internal Market adopted its negotiating position on the machinery products regulation on Tuesday morning.
The new rules aim to improve and adapt the existing machinery legislative framework to the current needs of the market and safety risks stemming from emerging digital technologies, like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, thus encouraging innovation and consumers’ trust.
The amendments brought by Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) include clarification on definitions and the scope on machinery products, extension of the transitional period in order to allow industry to adapt to the changes and provisions allowing for more digital solutions.
The draft report was adopted with 38 votes in favour, 7 against and no abstentions. IMCO also approved the decision to start interinstitutional negotiations (38 in favour, 7 against, no abstentions).
Updates into a regulation
The current machinery directive has given member states flexibility on how to comply with its objectives, but this has also led to diverse interpretations creating legal uncertainty and lack of coherence in the single market. The update to a regulation aims to increase legal clarity and simplify administrative burdens and costs for companies.
For machinery to be placed on the EU market, manufacturers needs ensure that essential health and safety requirements are met and conformity checks carried out. Conformity assessment requirements for machinery products should however be proportionate to their potential risks.
According to MEPs, come categories of products, for example machinery using AI (listed under Annex I, Part A), should be subject to stricter conformity assessment procedures and shall have to be carried out by a third party. For other products (listed under Annex I, Part B), the manufacturer himself can carry out the conformity assessment.
The rules outline precise criteria to determine which machinery products should be subject to specific conformity assessments. In view of the latest technological and scientific developments, the EU Commission can adapt the classification via delegated acts.
Decoupling from the Artificial Intelligence Act
In order to allow for a speedier entry into force of the updated rules on machinery products, MEPs have decided to consider this regulation separately from the legislative proposal on Artificial Intelligence, on which work is still ongoing in Parliament and Council.
The rapporteur Ivan Štefanec (EPP, SK) said: “The agreed proposal represents a balanced compromise for manufacturers and end users of machinery products. Upgrading the Machinery Directive to a Regulation brings to the machinery market the advantages of the single market, harmonisation of rules and stronger predictability. Users of machinery products from the EU or outside are guaranteed stronger protection with the harmonised health and safety requirements, which now include AI systems with self-determining and evolving behaviour.”
Negotiations with EU governments on the Machinery Regulation can start once Parliament as whole confirms its position during the second plenary session in May (18-19).
On 21 April, as a part of the Artificial Intelligence Package, the EU Commission presented its proposal on machinery products aimed at modernising the existing machinery framework, which dates back to 2006. The Machinery Directive is the core European legislation for the safety of, for example, robots or 3D printers.