In order to ensure the free movement of goods, the requirements laid down by Member States for the procedures for adopting technical regulations and standards and for conformity assessment should be as uniform as possible throughout the Community. There are two methods within the EU to achieve as large a harmonisation as possible: (1) through detailed technical legislation (Old Approach) and (2) harmonisation of essential requirements (New Approach). As concerns products for which no harmonised requirements exist, the principle of mutual recognition applies.
Principle of mutual recognition
As concerns products for which no harmonised requirements exist, the technical barriers to trade shall be removed by applying the principle of mutual recognition*). In line with the principle, products that have been lawfully produced and marketed in one Member State can also be marketed in any other Member State, even if they do not fully meet the national technical or quality requirements set by the Member State concerned for the production in the own country. National authorities may introduce national restrictions only in extreme cases, for which grounds would have to be provided, on the legal basis clearly defined either in the Treaty (Article 30 of the Treaty) or in the case law of the Court of Justice. Justified grounds of this type are, among others, public health and consumer protection.
Even though the principle of mutual recognition applies mainly to products, it has had an effect especially on the free movement of services.
*) Case law by the EC Court of Justice: “Cassis de Dijon” (C 120/78, 20 February 1979)