The European Commission issued today a reasoned opinion requesting France to amend its rules on hoods for protection of fire-fighters to facilitate the free trade in the EU. The French Technical Information Note (N.I.T 328) imposes to manufacturers of hoods for protection of fire-fighters additional safety requirements to those outlined at EU level.
The Commission takes the view that for public services such as fire-fighters, Member States may require certain operational criteria (such as colour), but they must not impose requirements, tests or inspections other than those specified under the European harmonised standard EN13911:2004 on test methods for fire hoods for fire-fighters.
On June 4, 2010 the Commission sent a formal letter to French authorities indicating the non conformity of their rules with EU provisions on free circulation of goods. France replied that the Technical Information Note 328 was repealed and they seek a revision of the relevant European harmonised standard to take into account the specificity of the fight against forest fire.
Although the repeal of the N.I.T 328 was confirmed, certain elements seem to appear in other official documents, which might entail a distortion on internal market. The Commission, therefore, sent a newly revised Information Note to the French authorities, recalling the principles of the free movement of goods. An answer was expected to be sent to the Commission in January 2011 by France.
If France fails to comply within two months following this reasoned opinion, the Commission could refer the case to Court of Justice.