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The publication of the European Construction Product Directive in 1989 marked the beginning of the gradual introduction of European standardization. European standards are to replace existing Belgian standards, or at least require them to be thoroughly revised. By affixing a CE mark, the manufacturer declares that the performance characteristics of his product have been determined by the appropriate European standard and that measures have been taken for the product to continue meeting these declared characteristics.
As the actors in the road equipment branch were concerned about the impact of this European standardization, a steering committee on European standardization in the road equipment branch was formed at BRRC in the spring of 2003. The first task of this committee was to increase the awareness of, and disseminate information to, the various actors in the field: road authorities, manufacturers, specialized institutions, etc. For that purpose, a series of thematic sessions on the standardization and CE marking of road equipment was held in March 2004.
Concurrently, there appeared to be a need to revitalize the Belgian mirror group for CEN/TC226 (E226), coordinated by the then Belgian Standards Institute (IBN/BIN). The obvious solution was to merge BRRC’s young steering group on European standardization in the road equipment branch and the existing IBN/BIN mirror group E226 into a Road Equipment Commission (REC). The role of this REC was thereby extended to include the following main tasks:
- to disseminate information to professionals and increase their awareness of the issue;
- to act as the Belgian standardization commission for CEN/TC 226 Road Equipment and, in this capacity, to coordinate the activities of the mirror groups for the various working groups of TC226;
- to provide training.
The membership of REC includes representatives of all the parties involved (regions; professional associations; research institutions; inspection and certification bodies; manufacturers), which enables the Commission to put forward a unanimously accepted, independent and expert point of view.
In March 2007, BRRC was recognized by the Belgian Bureau for Standardization (NBN) as a sectoral operator for all the standardization activities of CEN/TC226. This recognition makes the activities of REC-E226 more official. Moreover, it entitles BRRC to officially take over some of the tasks of NBN.
The scope includes all the subjects covered by CEN/TC226. With this aim in view, four subcommittees have been formed:
- safety equipment;
- road marking;
- traffic signing;
- noise screens.
The other subjects are discussed in the standardization commission itself or, if necessary, in dedicated meetings.
To keep actors as well-informed as possible on the introduction and implementation of European standards for road equipment, information sessions have been organized on a regular basis over the past few years. Since CEN/TC226 is still working on a number of standards, similar events are likely to take place in future.
REC hopes to be able to continue playing its role, now and in future. If you think you can contribute to the activities of the Road Equipment Commission or if you have questions about REC and what it can mean to you, you can always contact it.