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The Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive

EU CE Marking legislation which covers electromagnetic compatibility of certain products

Directive 2004/108/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 2004 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to electromagnetic compatibility.


The Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (now 'EMC Directive') repeals the previous EMC Directive 89/336/EEC and maintains the same objectives – to guarantee the free movement of apparatus and to create an acceptable electromagnetic environment in the Community territory. It essentially marks out the requirements and criteria needed to be satisfied before applying the CE mark to certain products.


The main objective of the EMC Directive is thus to regulate the compatibility of equipment regarding electromagnetic compatibility. In order to achieve this objective, provisions have been put in place so that:

  • equipment ( apparatus and fixed installations) needs to comply with the requirements of the EMC Directive when it is placed on the market and/or taken into service;
  • the application of good engineering practice is required for fixed installations, with the possibility for the competent authorities of each country to impose measures if non-compliances are established.


The Directive applies to a vast range of equipment encompassing electrical and electronic appliances, systems and installations.  For setting the level of protection the mail goals are:

  1. To ensure that the electromagnetic disturbances produced by equipment does not affect the correct functioning of other apparatus as well as radio and telecommunications networks, related equipment and electricity distribution networks.
  2. To ensure that equipment has an adequate level of intrinsic immunity to electromagnetic disturbances to enable them to operate as intended.

To ensure that this process remains open to future technical developments, the EMC Directive only describes the essential requirements along general lines, it is not a guarantee of absolute protection of the equipment.

Therefore the EMC Directive does not regulate the safety of equipment in respect of people, domestic animals or property, it is only concerned with the electromagnetic compatibility of equipment. For example Essential Requirements under the Directive require that any electromagnetic disturbances produced do not affect:

  1. The correct operation of the equipment
  2. Radio-communications, electrical supply networks or telecommunications networks.
  3. The product's ability to perform without degradation caused by electromagnetic disturbances

Excluded from the EMC Directive

Article 1.2 explicitly excludes:

  • Radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment covered by Directive 1999/5/EC (the "R&TTE Directive");
  • Aeronautical products, parts and appliances referred to in Regulation 1592/2002;
  • Radio equipment used by radio amateurs as defined in International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations.

However according to Article 1(4) of the Directive, if the electromagnetic compatibility requirements for equipment are laid down more specifically by other Directives then it shall not apply.

Essential Requirements

Compliance with the essential requirements is mandatory, these are legally-binding for all equipment in the scope of the EMC Directive. Only compliant equipment may be placed on the market and/ or put in service in the Community.

The essential requirements are split into two parts:

1. Protection requirements

Equipment shall be so designed and manufactured, having regard to the state of the art, as to ensure that:

  • the electromagnetic disturbance generated does not exceed the level above which radio and telecommunications equipment or other equipment cannot operate as intended;
  • it has a level of immunity to the electromagnetic disturbance to be expected in its intended use which allows it to operate without unacceptable degradation of its intended use.

2. Specific requirements for fixed installations

Installation and intended use of components.

A fixed installation shall be installed applying good engineering practices and respecting the information on the intended use of its components, with a view to meeting the protection requirements set out in Point 1. Those good engineering practices shall be documented and the documentation shall be held by the person(s) responsible at the disposal of the relevant national authorities for inspection purposes for as long as the fixed installation is in operation.

Any company that produces a product that falls under the scope of the EMC Directive must comply with the essential requirements before the product can be legitimately placed on the market.  In order to prove a product is compliant a 'conformity assessment' must be completed along with a declaration and then the CE Mark  must be affixed to the product.  Annex II, III and IV of the EMC Directive contain full details of this procedure.

You can also find out more about the CE Marking procedure here.

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