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The Radio Equipment Directive (RED) (2014/53/EU) has been published to bring the requirements for radio equipment into line with the New Legislative Framework (NLF). It came into force on the 13th June 2016 and replaced R+TTE Directive 1999/5/EC with a one year transition period.

The main consequences for manufacturers can be summarised:

  • The Radio Equipment Directive represents a further liberalisation of the requirements for telecom products in Europe since it excludes all wired equipment from its scope and so fixed line equipment will now be regulated under the LVD and EMC directives in the same way as any other general electrical apparatus.
  • Broadcast TV and radio receivers, which were excluded from the scope of the R+TTE Directive, are within the scope of the Radio Equipment Directive, but the basic self-certification structure remains in place for all equipment covered by Harmonised Standards.
  • Equipment operating below 9 kHz which has been excluded from the R & TTE Directive, now falls within the scope of the Radio Equipment.
  • Radio-determination equipment is now clearly included within the scope of the Directive.
  • Custom built evaluation kits destined for professionals to be used solely at research and development facilities for such purposes is explicitly excluded from the Radio Equipment Directive.
  • Notified Body intervention (in the form of a type approval or an accredited quality management system covering design) will be required where Harmonised standards are unavailable (other than for safety or EMC).
  • The Directive removes the requirement for special marking (the alert symbol) on equipment operating on non-harmonised frequency bands but instead requires information in the user documentation. The notification procedure to Member States is also removed.


The Radio Equipment Directive's predecessor directive, the R+TTE Directive, was introduced in 1999, replacing the interim directive 98/13/EC, which in turn consolidated the requirements of the Telecommunications Terminal Equipment and Satellite Earth Station Equipment directives. This has led to a conformity assessment regime based on manufacturers' declarations, rather than independent tests.

It is important to note that equipment within the scope of this Directive must meet the essential requirements of both the Low Voltage Directive and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive. The Directive also requires equipment to be constructed for efficient use of the radio spectrum, and to avoid interference with terrestrial and orbital communications. Additional requirements are made for certain classes of equipment.

There are a number of possible ways in which manufacturers can ensure that their product complies. If harmonized standards exist for the equipment, they may self-declare. If these do not exist, the manufacturer may have to involve a Notified Body to assess the ability of the equipment to meet the essential requirements of the Directive before self certification can take place. The CE logo is used on the product to indicate it complies with the Directive.


The original Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (TTE) Directive was enacted in 1991 and was intended to bring about a liberalisation of the market for telephone equipment within the EU over the following years. In 1993, an additional Directive concerning Satellite Earth Station Equipment (SESE) was issued. Essentially, this Directive laid out almost identical requirements for SESE as already existed for TTE.

In 1998, the two Directives were consolidated into one, 98/13/EC, but even at that time this was seen as only an interim measure, the European Commission already having expressed its dissatisfaction with the speed at which the EU market for telecoms apparatus was being opened up. Among the issues which concerned the Commission were that the rate at which the technology was changing outstripped the ability of the regulatory framework, and in particular the standards development effort, to cope, and that certain countries within the EU were still not removing barriers to trade (such as approval and licensing requirements) as the original Directive had intended.

In March 1999, therefore, a new directive, 99/5/EC was agreed. This made some significant differences to the standards and approvals requirements for this type of apparatus which pertained under the old Directives. In particular, the new Directive covered all radio communication apparatus (taking this out of the scope of the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive and there was a simplified conformity assessment regime based on manufacturer's declarations rather than on independent tests. Finally the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) came into force on 13th July 2016.


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