BRUSSELS, Belgium - Last Tuesday, December 8, The European Two-Wheeler Retailers’ Association (ETRA) attended a meeting of the European Commission’s working group “Machinery” which had electric bicycles on the agenda. Just 21 days before the new Machinery Directive enters into force, the working group discussed whether the Directive also applies to electric pedal assisted bicycles with a motor output of maximum 250 W and assistance up to 25 km/h.
At the meeting, ETRA Secretary General Annick Roetynck explained how the possible applicability of the Machinery Directive had come as a surprise. She also expressed worries about new administrative burdens that may result in higher costs. Furthermore, she stated that since the overall majority of the electric bicycle manufacturers are not aware of the legislation, it would be very difficult for them to start to comply as of 29 December.
Member states had divergent opinions. Germany, Austria and the UK thought the application of the Directive on electric bicycles was beyond any doubt. France and Belgium however fiercely opposed, arguing that specialists should first assess the risks related to the use of electric bicycles before taking a decision.
The Commission was also in favour of applying the Directive to electric pedal assisted bicycles but gave the member states until 20 December to submit their arguments and position. This deadline should allow the Commission to give the industry a definite answer before 29 December, date on which the Directive becomes effective.
Electric bicycles ended up on the working group’s agenda as a result of a written question by the German bicycle industry association ZIV. About 1.5 years ago, the Commission circulated a draft text, which explicitly referred to pedal assisted cycles as being within the scope of the Directive. At the meeting, the Commission said it was regrettable that the industry had overlooked that draft.
Practical implications for e-Bike producers
If following the member states’ advice, the Commission concludes that the Machinery Directive does apply to electric bicycles, this will have some practical implications for electric bicycle producers. First of all, the bikes will have to comply with the health and safety requirements set out in Annex I of the Directive. Secondly, they will have to make available a technical file and provide the necessary information, such as instructions. They will have to carry out the appropriate procedures for assessing conformity and draw up the EC declaration of conformity in accordance with Annex II of the Directive. Finally, they will have to affix the CE marking.
The obligations above could be simplified by means of harmonising the EN 15194 standard. For that purpose, a CEN consultant should evaluate to what extent the existing standard would need adaptation to the Machinery Directive requirements. Upon this adaptation, a reference to the standard would have to be published in the Official Journal. As a result of this publication, electric bicycles manufactured in conformity with the harmonised standard would be presumed to comply with the health and safety requirements in the Machinery Directive.
As for the above-mentioned certificate of conformity, the Commission stated that the Electromagnetic Compatibility Standard (2004/108/EC) already requires a certificate of conformity for electric bicycles, so that it would be simple to expand this to the certificate of conformity imposed by the Machinery Directive. However, ETRA found no reference to Directive 2004/108/EC nor a requirement for a EMC certificate of conformity in the EN 15194.
If the Commission concludes that electric bicycles do not fall within the scope of the Machinery Directive, then the General Product Safety Directive could become applicable.
By the end of the year, the uncertainty should be cleared. The Commission promised to call a meeting with the industry and with ETRA early next year to discuss the consequences of the final decision. We will of course keep you informed. In the meantime you can contact the ETRA secretariat should you require further information: tel. +32 9 233 60 05 – E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org