Approval and Harmonization – 4MS Initiative

The four Member States (MS) Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom Great Britain (“4 MS”) have agreed on collaboration in the harmonization of tests for the hygienic suitability of products in contact with drinking-water.

Four EU Member States France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom Great Britain (4MS) announced in January 2011 that they have formalised arrangements to work together on this important aspect of the regulatory frameworks they have in place to ensure the hygienic safety of drinking water.

Portugal has been granted the status of Candidate Member, since it is planning to introduce an assessment scheme for products in contact with drinking water that is intended to follow the 4MS Common Approach. Full membership will be achieved when the regulations come into full effect and are notified under Directive 98/43/EC, which is expected by the end of 2012.

Background to the Common Approach

In 1998 work started on the design and development of a single European scheme for the hygienic assessment of products in contact with drinking water - the European Acceptance Scheme (EAS). The aims were to remove barriers to trade by creating a universal approval scheme and to design assessment systems that would respond to the growing awareness of the need to manage drinking water quality from source to tap. This work was being carried out under the auspices of the European Commission (DG Enterprise), but in 2006 the Commission withdrew its support for the EAS. Work was to proceed on a more limited “harmonisation” project under the Construction Products Directive, but this would not achieve the full aims of the EAS.

France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom Great Britain had been strong supporters of the EAS ideas. In 2007 they agreed to pursue a common approach to product assessment with the intention of achieving the hygienic safety aims of the EAS in their countries. They still support a European arrangement and provide active input to achieve this.

Basis for a Common Approach

The 4MS intend to adopt common, or directly comparable, practices for:

  • The acceptance of the constituents used in materials in contact with drinking water
  • The testing of materials
  • The use of common test methods and setting acceptance levels
  • The specification of tests to be applied to products
  • Reviewing factory production control and setting audit testing requirements
  • Assessing the capabilities of certification and testing bodies

A statement has been prepared giving further information on how the 4MS are defining and developing their Common Approach.

Common Approach Documentation

The 4MS are committed to make the documents that set out their agreed policies and practices public when they are fully agreed.

Documents - Common Approach