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CE marking and equipment for military purposes

The situation for 'military equipment' is complex. Certain directives have specific exclusions for military equipment, although not every member state has actually included such provisions in their national legislation. There is also a blanket exclusion under the Treaty of Rome which member states may claim where they believe their national security interests are at risk but this is something the member state government would have to apply and cannot simply be claimed by the manufacturer of military equipment.

The UK position is that the equipment actually has to be specifically military in nature to be eligible for exclusion where such an exclusion is given in the directives. Accordingly it must have only a military (or police) application (e.g.it must be an offensive weapon of some description). Just because it is being sold to the armed forces does not make it automatically exempt from the CE mark requirements. Dual use equipment (i.e. equipment which may be used for both military/police purposes and has a civilian use) must be CE marked.

The situation (in the UK at least) is further complicated by the status of the Crown with respect to health and safety legislation. This has implications for the CE marking of some equipment because the work equipment directives require products provided for employees' use to meet the applicable essential requirements of the New Approach directives. The actual application of this to the military is far from simple - in effect the occupational H&S Regulations apply in peace time but not during active service, although the legal situation is actually a lot more complex than this. Furthermore, most military installations include civilian government employees for whom the crown immunity does not apply.

In 2000 the UK Ministry of Defence issued a new health and safety handbook (JSP375 - available on line) in which the Secretary of State for Defence makes clear that he will apply the CE marking legislation even if he is not obliged to do so by the requirements of the law:

“Where the Ministry has been granted specific exemptions, disapplications or derogations from legislation, international treaties or protocols, Departmental standards and arrangements are to be introduced which will be, so far as is reasonably practicable, at least as good as those required by the legislation.”


Conformance advice:


Conformance's advice is to consider that the CE Directives do apply regardless of the status of the products with respect to any exemption. If you take this on board at an early stage and plan accordingly, it is likely that little or no additional compliance work will be required to that which will be required to meet the military purchase specification anyway.

If you need or want to apply a military/police exclusion from CE marking, try to get a formal notification of some sort that this is permitted from the customer in question.

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