The EMC Directive (2014/30/EU) regulates electromagnetic interference of electrical and electronic equipment. Have you ever heard a buzzing noise on your audio speakers when you hold a phone or electronic device next to it? What you hear is electromagnetic interference.
‘Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the ability of electrical equipment and systems to function acceptably in their electromagnetic environment, by limiting the unintentional generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic energy which may cause unwanted effects such as electromagnetic interference (EMI) or even physical damage in operational equipment. The goal of EMC is the correct operation of different equipment in a common electromagnetic environment. It is also the name given to the associated branch of electrical engineering’. 
The EMC Directive (2014/30/EU) aims to ensure that any electrical and electronic equipment minimizes the emission of electromagnetic interference that may influence other equipment. The directive also requires equipment to be able to resist the disturbance of other equipment.
In order to comply with the EMC Directive a manufacturers must:
- Design the equipment to comply with the electromagnetic emission and immunity requirements;
- document test results and calculations that provide evidence for EMC compliance;
- apply the labeling and marking requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions about the EMC Directive
‘EMC’ stands for ‘electromagnetic compatibility’. This refers to the ability of an electrical or electronic device to function with limited emission of electromagnetic interference and with limited susceptibility for these disturbances
Products need to comply with Directive 2014/30/EU if they are EMC relevant, and if they are intended to be made available in one of the countries requiring the CE marking. The directive states that it applies to ‘products liable to generate electromagnetic disturbance, or the performance of which is liable to be affected by such disturbance, and to fixed installations’. This rather cryptical description means that the directive typically applies to products that contain electronics or active electrical components. This is regardless whether these are mains powered or battery powered products.
Exempted from the scope of Directive 2014/30/EU are products those that are physically incapable of emitting or be disturbed by electromagnetic interference because they do not include any active (electronic) parts. Examples of such products (provided they contain no active electronic parts) are: cables and cabling, equipment containing only resistive loads without any automatic switching such as fans and domestic heaters without controls, batteries (without an active circuit), corded headphones, loudspeakers without amplification, pocket lamps (including LED flashlights), induction motors without electronics, and simple quartz watches. Sub components intended to be build into other equipment are exempted too, unless these sub components are made available to the end user.
The following products are exempted from the scope of the EMC Directive, because they are covered by other EU CE marking directives and regulations requiring assessment for their electromagnetic compatibilities:
– Electrical equipment that use radio frequency broadcasting or receiving technologies and that are within the scope of the Radio Equipment Directive;
– Radio equipment intended for use by radio amateurs;
– Aeronautical products, parts and appliances as referred to in Regulation (EC) No 216/2008;
– Motor vehicles, including two or three-wheel motor vehicles;
– Medical Devices (covered by the Medical Device Regulation (EU) 2017/745 );
– Marine Equipment (covered by Directive 2014/90/EU);
– Agricultural and forestry tractors (covered by Regulation (EU) No 167/2013).
The following products are exempted from the immunity requirements of the EMC Directive only (the emission requirements still apply):
– Measuring instruments (covered by Directive 2014/32/EU);
– Non-automatic weighing instruments (covered by Directive 2014/31/EU).
Check the Steps to EMC Compliance Guide below.
First, it should be noted that there is not a single, European Union enforcement agency or service. Enforcement of CE marking legislation is performed by national market surveillance authorities of the EU Member States. These national market surveillance authorities work together closely, sharing information about non-compliant and unsafe products. Enforcement by these authorities is done in accordance with their respective national laws and procedures.
Examples of enforcement measures and penalties:
In Germany, violation of the “Produktsicherheitsgesetz” (product safety law) can result in fines of €3,000 – €30,000 (§ 19) and up to 1 year imprisonment (§ 20).
In the UK, EMC violations are are covered under Section 33 HSWA offenses and can result in an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment.
Steps to EMC Compliance Guide
1. Design applying the EMC requirements
The key to EMC compliance is in the product design. EMC problems can be prevented by applying EMC compliant design principles, and taking measures such as adding shielding and filters.
Specifically, manufacturers must ensure that the product design:
- does not generate electromagnetic interference that interrupt the performance of the other equipment
- is immune to electromagnetic emissions from other products.
2. Conduct laboratory testing
Electromagnetic disturbances are invisible. Therefore the only way to determine if they occur is by conducting testing. The EMC Directive allows for self-testing for most equipment. However, the equipment necessary to conduct the full set of tests are very expensive. Therefore, it is often the best to subcontract the EMC tests to a qualified EMC test laboratory. Testing is done in accordance with European harmonised standards.
3. Compile the technical documentation or ‘Technical File’.
Manufacturers must compile and keep available a set of technical documentation that provide evidence of compliance with the EMC directive. This set of technical documentation is also called a Technical File. The Technical File will not only contain a test certificate and test report, but for example also the design documentation and documentation that describes the production process and shows that it ensures consistent quality. The Technical File should be held available for inspection by the market surveillance authorities and should be retained in the EU territory (for example by an authorised representative). Read more about the Technical File here.
4. EU Declaration of Conformity
Once the conformity with the EMC requirements has been determined and the Technical File been compiled, the manufacturer will draw up an EU Declaration of Conformity. This declaration confirms which CE directives/regulations and European standards have been complied with. Read more about the EU Declaration of Conformity here.
5. Affix the CE marking
The process is concluded by affixing the CE marking. The marking should be placed either on the product. Only when this is not possible, the marking may be affixed to the packaging or the instructions. The letters must be vertically equal in dimensions and must not be smaller 5 millimeters. If the product is covered by are other CE directives/regulations, the CE marking may be affixed only when it complies with all of them.
Manufacturers that are not based in the EU or have no subsidiary there, are not allowed to sell to consumers directly but have to work through an importer/distributor or appoint an authorised representative.
Download the EMC Directive
Some of the directives which are related to EMC directive in their functions are as follows:
- Low Voltage Directive (2014/35/EU)
- RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substances – Directive – 2011/65/EU
- [Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive – 2012/19/EU](Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive – 2012/19/EU)
- Machinery Directive (2006/42/EU)
- Medical Device Regulation (EU) 2017/745
- Marine Equipment Directive (96/98/EC)
- Agricultural and Forestry Tractors Directive (75/322/EEC)
- Two or Three-Wheeled Motor Vehicles Directive (97/24/EC)
- Auto EMC Directive (95/54/EC).
The Latest Related Blog Posts About the EMC Directive:
Other articles of interest:
- What is CE marking?
- What does the CE mark mean? What do the initials CE stand for?
- Do your products need CE marking?
- How do you benefit from CE marking??
- In which countries is the CE marking required?
- What does CE certification cost?
- Do our products automatically qualify for the CE mark when they are UL/CSA approved?
- Who should undertake CE marking?
- Notified Bodies: What Are They? What Is Their Role
- What is the CE marking process?
- What files / documentation must I keep?