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Traditional British Toilet to be scrapped by Brussels

April 10th, 1995

Myth: The traditional British toilet is under threat from a Brussels Directive which will force the UK to allow sales of cheaper and less sanitary Spanish and French models. Furthermore, British manufacturers fear any EU legislation, due to apply in 1997, will also herald the end of the syphonic flush system as perfected by Thomas Crapper& Co. in the 1880s.
(The Sunday Times, p. 17, 9.4.95 Today, 10.4.95)

Response: This ought not be the case. The scare has arisen in the context of moves that might eventually result in a set of common EU minimum requirements for lavatory manufacturers so that consumers across the Single Market can be assured that what they are buying is safe, hygenie and environmentally sound.

The relevant EU legislation, the 1988 Construction Products Directive, sets out the framework for harmonised standards in this area, stating that they will be developed exclusively by independent, private standardisation bodies within CEN – the European Committee for Standardisation.

Following discussions with the Member States the European Commission is preparing a mandate for CEN that defines basic requirements for sanitary appliances. This mandate will emphasise the hygiene, health, safety and environmental protection aspects related to products, such as sinks, bathtubs, toilets etc. The mandate should be ready for submission to CEN by the end of this year.

CEN’s consultation period usually lasts for about two years and will result in a “harmonised standard”. As soon as CEN creates a harmonised standard on sanitary appliances, all products sold in the Single Market will have to conform.


National governments are obliged to recognise products with a CE mark, and to let them circulate

freely within their own markets.

The process outlined above would enable British manufacturerswho conform to the standard to market their products much more effectively on the Continent, provided they satisfied the minimum requirements to be agreed, just as it would allow Continental manufacturers to sell their products in the UK.


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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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