European Product Directives set the minimum safety standards that products must conform to, before they are allowed on the European market or before they are first put into service in the European Economic Area (EEA).
The famous ‘CE marking’ symbol indicates that a product complies with all applicable Directives. A product complying with a directive in one EU nation must be allowed on the markets of all other EU nations, making the CE mark a vital ingredient in removing barriers to trade within the European single-market.
The EU does not have Directives for every single product, only those where differing national legislation within the member states created the perception of a barrier to trade.
A product is either in scope of one or more directives and MUST be CE marked or it is out of scope and CANNOT be CE marked. There is no choice about CE marking!
To achieve compliance, a manufacturer or importer is required to compile some documentation:
See the next section for details specific to the EU Recreational Craft Directive (RCD).