Royal Yachting Association Article on CE mark

Recreational Craft Directive Articles

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England's RYA (Royal Yachting Association) prints the "Cruising News" and makes it available on the internet as well. This fine publication has had several articles concerning the Recreational Craft Directive. They are reproduced below. We encourage you to visit the RYA web site and read many of their other interesting materials.

RYA Cruising News March 1996


On 1 January 1996 the EMC Directive came into force. This requires any item which emits electrical interference which could affect the performance of vital equipment, such as life support machines in hospitals or navigation equipment, to be withdrawn from sale. To achieve this all likely emitters such as electric motors, generators, engines, battery chargers, inverters, electrically driven pumps or bow thrusters and a great many more, will need to be certificated as emission free and CE marked to show they have been tested. With test houses charging in the region of 1000 per day for this work it is clear that the price of such equipment is bound to rise. If unapproved goods sold illegally into the market after 1 January 1996 are later proved to have caused death or injury, the individuals held to be responsible for bringing those products to the market could be personally liable to fines or imprisonment. This legislation seems to have caught manufacturers in the marine equipment world by surprise and seems likely to cause confusion as well as price rises.

April 1996 RYA Cruising News


14 countries, Nordic Boat Council, Professional Yachtsmen's Association, ICOMIA and AIT were represented. IYRU, UIM and three further countries sent apologies.

Environmental matters were discussed and countries reported on the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive. Restrictions imposed by this and other environmental measures will need to be made widely known and the involvement of National Hydrographic Offices was envisaged for this task. The EBA agreed that Germany would represent them at the 1997 Waddenzee Protection Conference. During the Technical discussion countries reported on the implementation of the EU Directive relating to the construction of recreational craft. Problems associated with the lack of Notified Bodies were noted and the UK reported that they were trying to implement a system of CE marking for vessels originally outside the scope of the Directive but for one reason or another at some stage in their life coming within it. Germany reported large numbers of additions being included in National law including a ban on having a boat without a CE mark in German waters. ICOMIA believed that such additions were illegal and would be dismissed by the European Commission. Most countries reported the introduction of the Directive in the exact form handed down by the European Commission. The Electro-Magnetic Compatibility Directive was discussed and it was clear that this will be have wide reaching effects on many pieces of marine equipment. Engine emission regulations were discussed and ICOMIA asked for user support in making sure that the current noise restrictions demanded by Sweden were relaxed to attainable limits. The exhaust requirements could, ICOMIA believed, be met and they hoped Germany would specify similar levels. The IMEC position paper was circulated. It was pointed out that if attainable engine limits could not be agreed whole sectors of motor water sport would simply disappear/.

The Global Marine Distress and Safety System was discussed and a suggested type specification for use on pleasure boats was circulated. It is hoped that this will be adopted shortly in Europe and thereafter throughout the world. Cessation of Channel 16 as a non distress calling channel still causes concern even though some countries have declared that a watch will be kept on Channel 16 after February 1999.

Membership application has been made by the EBA to the UN Inland Water Transport Committee in Geneva. This Committee deals with UN Resolution No.14 on which the International Certificate of Competence is based and a report on the last meeting was tabled with possible suggestions for the minimum likely requirements for this certificate if it is to be widely acceptable throughout Europe. The Secretary will write separately to all member countries asking for response by 1st June 1996 to these proposals and will then write to DGVII keeping them informed of progress in this area. Suggestions for amendment to the CEVNI rules as applied to recreational craft were considered and AIT confirmed that they would resist the impractical. The changes to the Rhine Rules were tabled and it was agreed that EBA should write to the Rhine Committee pointing out that these suggestions prevent pleasure boats from ever obtaining a licence which would allow complete transit of this International waterway.

The next meeting will be held on Sunday 13th October 1996, hopefully in Holland.

RYA Cruising News July 1996


This Directive is transposed into UK law by a Statutory Instrument No 1353 known as The Recreational Craft Regulations 1996. It came into force on 16 June 1996, but a two year transitional period means that it will not be compulsory in the UK until 16 June 1998. It applies only to new vessels and there is no retrospective element but undoubtedly many of the essential requirements will become normal practice as time passes. Copies of the document can be obtained from Her Majesty's Stationery Office at 4.70 and an administrative guidance booklet will be available by the end of June. This document will be free. Those confused by what is included in this law should read RYA News Summer 1996 page 39, where Ken Kershaw outlines the regulations.

RYA Cruising News November 1996


The EBA met in Amsterdam on Sunday 13 October 1996. Ten countries and four International Organisations were represented. Four further countries and two directorates of the European Commission sent their apologies. The agenda included Environmental, Technical and Safety matters and provided a most enlightening exchange of views and reports on various legislation in the countries represented and the EU. In particular the Directive relating to the Construction of Recreational Craft was discussed and more of the effects became clear - see below. Details of this Directive are in RYA News Summer 1996. RBBI comment - the RYA News Summer 1996 is not available online

Recreation Craft Directive (RCD)

Progress Reports
From the first proposals of this Directive by the British Marine Industries Federation (BMIF) as a means to overcome the barriers to the trade of new boats caused by legislation, particularly in France and Italy, it was clear that there would be cost implications to the user. There has never been a safety problem with the construction of recreational craft and therefore the exaggerated claims about the increase in safety that will result from this Directive have always had a hollow ring. However, among the reports on the various standards produced to support the Directive it became clear that a small dinghy with no form of buoyancy will no longer be acceptable and therefore not legal to manufacture and sell within the EU. This is an important safety aspect and accidents between the yacht and the shore do account for a large proportion of deaths on the water each year and is certainly a positive aspect of the legislation.

Countries reported on the progress of the transposition into national law of the Directive, so far Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain, among the EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, among the EFTA countries, have not produced national laws. Since these laws were due to come into force in June 1996, the EU countries, where they must adopt them, are late and the EFTA countries, where they are voluntary, have decided not to take advantage of the free trade offered by compliance. Most countries have simply adopted the Directive as drafted by the European Parliament but certain countries have gone further and the implications of this were discussed.

Germany has confirmed that it will make the "use of a boat in a way for which it was not designed" a criminal offence. Since the builder's plate, which is part of the certification process, lists the Design Category and the number of people for which the boat is designed, this gives two very clear areas that are immediately obvious to water police. However a pre-directive boat or a boat from a non-compliant country will not have such a plate. This means that for EU/EFTA vessels it will be enough to show they are pre-directive. For an import from a non-EU/EFTA country, which will count as a new boat on importation even though it is some years old, this will present a very real problem.

Italy confirmed that its current rules about distance offshore will be co-ordinated with the Design Categories through their registration system.

Category A will be authorised to navigate more than 25 miles from land, Category B up to 25 miles, Category C up to 3 miles and Category D inland waters. One can envisage some form of clearly visible sign on a vessel indicating its Design Category to the authorities.

One exception to the need to be certified is for those vessels "designed for racing and used solely for that purpose". A vessel so described by its manufacturer and marked to indicate this, would also apparently fall foul if discovered cruising in certain parts of Europe. These and other such inconsistencies between EU countries are seen by the EBA as likely to lea to barriers to the free movement within the EU of EU citizens in boats and gross misuse of a directive that specifically excludes legislation on the use of recreational boats.

As Secretary of the EBA I was tasked with writing to the European Commission about this matter and demanding that these barriers are removed.

RYA Cruising News November 1996


In answer to a question posed by MEP Elly Plooij-van-Gorsel of the Nederlands, asking:-

  1. if the European Commission was aware that jet skis seriously endanger the safety of the public in recreational areas?
  2. is water traffic safety in the interest of all water users?
  3. is a certain amount of skill required to operate high speed water vehicles comparable to that required to drive a road vehicle?
  4. would it be desirable to introduce a European navigation licence to promote safety in our waters and in recreation areas?

Mr Neil Kinnoch - Commissioner for Transport, in summary said,

"The Commission attaches the highest importance to the protection and safety of life at sea and is aware of the specific safety problems related to the operation of fast motorcraft, such as jet skis in coastal and inland recreational waters. It considers that such activities should take place in safe conditions both for the operators and for other water users in the area. In this respect the skill of the operators is a major factor. "The Common Policy on Safe Seas" has so far concentrated its efforts on maritime safety and environmental protection related to merchant shipping. However the Commission will consider whether and how value can be added to national initiatives on the safety of recreational craft, for example, through guidelines on protective measures. Indeed it is the Commissioners intention to examine the advisability of a framework Directive for enhancing the safety of recreational navigation and the protection of recreational waters as a complementary measure to the Directive on Recreational Craft 94/25/EC.


The EBA position on this subject is that the waters off Scotland and Ireland are so different to those off Greece that no common licence would be appropriate and it is therefore a matter for the subsidiarity of individual member states. The same cannot be said about the inland waterways of mainland Europe where because they are linked, a common solution would be appropriate.

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