Any person manufacturing, importing, distributing, supplying or using any radio or electrical equipment is responsible for ensuring that it complies with all relevant legislation before it can be placed on the market or put into service in Ireland or the EU internal market.
Operating radio equipment on a frequency band which is not allocated for use by that specific type of device can cause harmful interference to other services.
Electrical or electronic equipment can generate electromagnetic emissions which may also interfere with other equipment. Such equipment should also have an appropriate level of immunity to electromagnetic disturbances.
Serious cases of these types of interferences can cause damage to people, domestic animals and property and can interfere with Ireland’s radio spectrum.
It is therefore important before using, purchasing and/or importing equipment or devices to ensure they can be used in conformity with the EU and Irish law. In Ireland the relevant EU legislation has been given effect in the European Union (Radio Equipment) Regulations 2017 (the “RE Regulations”); The European Communities (Electromagnetic Compatibility) Regulations 2016; the European Communities (Electromagnetic Compatibility) Regulations 2017 (the “EMC Regulations”). The European Communities Low Voltage Regulations 2016 is also relevant (the “LV Regulations”).
ComReg is the designated Market Surveillance Authority in Ireland for the purposes of the RE Regulations and the EMC Regulations. It also enforces the LV Regulations in certain cases (otherwise it is the CCPC who enforce the LV Regulations, www.ccpc.ie).
It is an offence in many cases not to comply with the requirements of this EU and Irish regulatory regime.
Market surveillance of products and equipment is a requirement of the EU Single Market. It refers to “the activities carried out and measures taken by public authorities to ensure that products comply with the requirements set out in the relevant Community harmonisation legislation and do not endanger health, safety or any other aspect of public interest protection”.
The purpose of market surveillance is to prevent non-compliant and/or unsafe products and equipment from entering the market, anywhere in the EU, and to seek out and remove non-compliant products which have entered the market. Market surveillance can include actions such as product withdrawals, recalls and the application of sanctions to stop the circulation of non-compliant products and/or bringing any such products into compliance.
To support this principle, all products produced in, or imported into, the EU must meet certain identified and harmonised standards. The standards which apply to such devices are of a technical and administrative nature. Their core purpose is to ensure that the integrity of the radio spectrum resource is maintained and in addition to prevent harmful interference and emissions.
What is radio equipment? Radio equipment is electrical or electronic product equipment which intentionally emits or receives radio waves for the purpose of radio communication or radiodetermination, or an electrical or electronic product which must be completed with an accessory, such as an antenna, so as to intentionally emit or receive radio wave for the purpose of radio communication or radiodetermination. The RE Regulations apply to all electrical or electronic equipment containing a radio interface that is not readily removable.
As set out under the LV Regulations electrical equipment must comply with the LV Regulations as set out therein. That is to say the electrical equipment must have been constructed in accordance with good engineering practice in safety matters and must not endanger the health and safety of persons and domestic animals, or property, when properly installed and maintained and used in applications for which it was made.
The CCPC is the designated sole market surveillance authority of the purposes of the LV Regulations with regard to electrical equipment.
However, ComReg is obliged to ensure compliance of radio equipment with the safety requirements described in the Low Voltage Regulations (in addition to the essential requirements regarding electromagnetic compatibility and efficient use of radio spectrum).
ComReg is the designated Market Surveillance Authority in respect of the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU (“RED”).
The RED is transposed into Irish law by way of the European Union (Radio Equipment) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 248/2017) (“RE Regulations”), which establishes a regulatory framework for placing radio equipment on the market.
Radio equipment can be combined or assembled to function with non-radio equipment. Where the “radio equipment is incorporated in a fixed and permanent way in the non-radio product” then the entire product as a whole must comply with the RED Regulations (because the entire product will be considered “radio equipment”) as the European Commission’s Supplementary Guidance makes clear. Whether the equipment and radio equipment is combined or assembled “in a fixed and permanent way“ is thus a question of fact.
An example of such a combined radio equipment is a washing machine with a WiFi interface. As explained, this this type of washing machine must not only comply with the safety requirements of the LV Regulations, but it must also, in addition, comply with the other essential requirements of the RED Regulations (regarding electromagnetic compatibility and efficient use of radio spectrum). This entire product would be deemed to fall within the scope of the RED Regulations and therefore fall under the remit of ComReg in Ireland.
Conversely, certain other products which although packaged or made available in the same packaging will be enforced in part by ComReg and in part by the CCPC. For example if a power cable of a Wi-Fi enabled kitchen appliance is not combined, assembled or incorporated “in a fixed and permanent way” and can be easily separated, the cable itself will not fall under the remit of ComReg (as it does not have any component radio equipment). The cable’s compliance with the LV Regulations will fall under the remit of the CCPC. In this case, ComReg will enforce compliance with the radio equipment part of the appliance, in many cases this will be the “main” appliance excluding the separable electrical cable.
The obligations for placing radio equipment on the market are set out in full in the RE Regulations. These include:
The EMC Directive aims to ensure that electrical and electronic equipment does not generate, and is not affected by, electromagnetic disturbance. The EMC directive limits unintentional electromagnetic emissions from equipment in order to ensure that, when used as intended, such equipment does not disturb radio and telecommunication, as well as other equipment. The directive also governs the immunity of such equipment to interference and seeks to ensure that this equipment is not disturbed by radio emissions, when used as intended.
The EMCD is transposed into Irish law by way of the European Union (Electromagnetic Compatibility) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 69/2017) (“EMC Regulations”) and establishes a regulatory framework for placing equipment on the market by setting essential requirements for all equipment.
ComReg is the designated Market Surveillance Authority in respect of the EMC Directive 2014/30/EU (“EMCD”)
The obligations for placing equipment on the market are set out in full in the EMC Regulations These include: