The agreement between the Swiss Confederation and the European Community on mutual recognition in relation to conformity assessment (MRA) entered into force on 1 June 2002 as one of the seven agreements concluded as part of a package known as the «Bilateral agreements I». The MRA is an instrument designed to remove technical barriers to the trade of industrial goods between Switzerland and the EU. It applies to the most important product sectors (such as machinery, medical devices, electrical equipment, construction products, lifts, biocidal products). In terms of value, the agreement covers about two thirds of trade in industrial products between Switzerland and the EU.
Better access to the EU market
The agreement ensures that, for the products covered by the agreement, Swiss manufacturers and conformity assessment bodies have, to the greatest extent possible, the same access to the EU market as their EU or EEA competitors. The MRA reduces the time needed and costs incurred to place products on the respective foreign markets.
The agreement helps to reduce significant technical barriers to trade by confirming on the one hand the harmonisation of Swiss and EU technical regulations, and on the other hand by eliminating the need for two conformity assessments, since one conformity assessment is sufficient to access the Swiss and EU market. Such an assessment can be carried out according to Swiss or EU technical regulations by a conformity assessment body recognised under the agreement.
How mutual recognition works
For most product sectors covered by the agreement, Swiss and EU technical regulation are deemed equivalent. The conformity assessments required for the EU internal market can be carried out by a Swiss conformity assessment body recognised under the agreement, and according to Swiss technical regulations. This applies to all the products covered by the agreement irrespective of their origin. In the two product sectors where the Swiss and EU legislations are not deemed equivalent (hot water boilers and a specific category of measuring instruments), products to be exported into the EU must be manufactured according to EU technical regulations. However, the required conformity assessment can still be carried out by a Swiss conformity assessment body recognised under the agreement.
Content of the agreement
The agreement consists of a general part and two annexes. The general part sets out several horizontal provisions that apply to all product sectors covered by the agreement. Annex 1 includes the sectoral chapters that cover the different product sectors while Annex 2 sets out general rules which apply to the designation of conformity assessment bodies recognised under the agreement.
In line with Article 10 of the MRA agreement, a Joint Committee is formed consisting of one representative for each part, which is charged with overseeing the orderly functioning of the agreement. The Joint Committee can amend the annexes to the agreement through a joint decision.
The Joint Committee’s most recent decision:
Decisions by the Joint Committee are drafted in English. It enters into force on 22.12.2017. A translation into the three official languages of the Swiss Confederation are published as soon as possible in the Official Compilation of the Federal Legislation.
Annex 1 of the Agreement (product specific provisions [chapters])
The chapters in annex 1 are divided systematically into five sections. They list the Swiss and EU legislative, regulatory and administrative provisions which apply to the product sectors, and define the scope of the agreement. The chapters also include some sector specific provisions, such as information exchange, market surveillance cooperation.