Chinese Export…?

I have to admit it: I’ve used this lame joke. But I have heard other CE marking consultants use it on many occasions. In fact, I think it is one of the most used jokes in presentations about CE marking:

“What do the letters CE in CE marking stand for?”

The presenter then should proceed with a smile and say:

“Some people think it means Chinese Export…”.

(For those of you who do not know the right answer: CE originally stood for Conformité Européenne or European Conformity)

The video below shows that the joke has gotten completely out of hand, and that the story of “Chinese Export” has started to live a life of its own. The video was posted by a Czech member of the European parliament a while ago. She must have participated in one of my colleagues’ sessions and taken the joke seriously.

Let’s end any misunderstandings

1. There is no certification scheme or program that will result in the affixing of a “Chinese Export”-mark. The “Chinese Export”-mark does not exist (at least its not a formal marking);
2. In the market you can find many products that have the CE marking with the wrong dimensions. However, this does not automatically mean that the product is not compliant with the requirements (ok, except for the requirement to affix the CE marking with the correct dimensions);
3. Also you may find the CE marking affixed to products that do not require CE. A good illustration I gave in this video:

See also here:

Every month I get emails from manufacturers or distributors that are under great pressure from their customers to affix the CE marking to products that are not covered by any of the CE marking directives.

Sometimes the manufacturer forgets to affix the CE marking:

This video was originally posted here:

I think the whole story with the “Chinese Export” mark may have started when some Chinese manufacturers, who did not have CE certification for their products, wanted to disclose this and affixed the marking with the altered dimensions. When confronted with the non-compliance they could reply that it was not a CE marking at all, but a marking that indicates “Chinese Export”.

UPDATE: The European Commission has answered the formal questions of Ms. Zuzana Roithová. The reply reads as follows:

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

The Commission is aware that there exists the misconception attributing CE marking the meaning ‘Chinese export’. The Commission is not aware of the existence of a ‘China export mark’ but considers that the mark the Honourable Member refers to constitute the CE marking as foreseen in the European legislation without, however, respecting the dimensions and proportions prescribed therein.

The Commission is aware that CE marking, like any other mark, is misused, e.g. CE marking is affixed to products which do not fulfil the requirements and conditions for its affixing or it is affixed to products for which the affixing is not foreseen. There are also cases where, whilst the product is in compliance with the applicable requirements the CE marking itself does not respect the formal requirements, namely the form of the CE marking or the dimensions and proportions prescribed in the legislation.

The Commission considers market surveillance to be the crucial element to prevent CE marking from being misused. According to the principle of subsidiarity market surveillance is primarily a task of the Member States. Products bearing CE marking although they do not comply with the applicable requirements must be identified by the national competent authorities and subsequently be withdrawn from the market.

As market surveillance does not work on a uniform level throughout the EU the Commission deems it necessary to establish a comprehensive Community legislative framework in order to ensure coherent market surveillance. The Commission, therefore, proposed a draft Regulation setting out the requirements for market surveillance relating to the marketing of products(1). This draft Regulation aims at strengthening market surveillance for industrial products and making it more effective and more efficient in all Member States, consumer goods already being covered by the General Product Safety Directive(2). The proposal sets out minimum requirements in terms of resources and surveillance activities and establishes cooperation and information obligations between authorities, both on a national level and across borders. Furthermore, it will establish an obligation for Member States to execute appropriate checks on the characteristics of a product on an adequate scale before it is released for free circulation. In addition it will introduce the possibility for national authorities to destroy non-compliant products. It also provides for the legal basis for Member States to impose sanctions in the case of misuse which should serve as a deterrent. However, it is up to Member States to actually use this power.

The Commission is in constant discussion with Chinese authorities in order to ensure that Chinese exporters respect Community legislation.

The Commission has already initiated the procedure to register CE marking as a Community collective trademark. National market surveillance authorities will have an additional means to take legal action against manufacturers providing non-compliant products and misusing CE marking. In addition, economic operators/competitors will be entitled to bring proceedings for infringement and to claim for compensation.
(1) COM(2007)37 final.

(2) Directive 2001/95/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety, OJ L 11, 15.1.2002.

The answer can also be found at the following url: