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New European rules 'will force up product costs'

EUROPEAN CE marking rules could force up the cost of high technology products like concrete admixtures and repair materials, manufacturers claimed last week.

All products for which a harmonised European standard has been published can only be offered for sale if they bear the CE mark.

For complex products like concrete admixtures the standard usually demands compliance with tough third party 'attestation of conformity' rules.

In many cases this means extra testing and the employment of more in house technicians.

These extra costs could also lead to producers rationalising their ranges which could see many low volume products dropped.

Degussa construction products national sales manager Mike Threadgold said that for multinational producers identical products from factories in different countries had to be independently certified, which pushed up unit costs.

He also claimed that UK accredited independent test houses were unable to cope with the extra testing requirements.

'We're moving most of our UK production testing to Europe, ' he said.

But Construction Products Association (CPA) industry affairs director John Tebbit said he had not seen any signs so far of CE marking having a negative effect on cost or availability.

'In fact it seems to be going the other way. CE marking is turning even complex high technology products into commodities, opening up competition and putting a downward pressure on prices.'

Cement Admixtures Association secretary John Dransfield agreed: 'Most common admixtures now are basically commodities - what marks out one producer from another is the depth of technical expertise and back-up that's on offer.

'And while there will inevitably be rationalisation, it's also true that very small batches of specialised products won't need to be CE marked.'

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