Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

SI units need to be amended

A draft proposal has recently been published calling for changes to European Community (EC) laws relating to the Système International (SI) units of measurement.

The proposal seeks a European Parliament (EP) and Council Directive amending Council Directive 80/181/EEC on the a...
A draft proposal has recently been published calling for changes to European Community (EC) laws relating to the Système International (SI) units of measurement.

The proposal seeks a European Parliament (EP) and Council Directive amending Council Directive 80/181/EEC on the approximation of the laws of Member States relating to units of measurement.

The legislation, used throughout the EC, recognises SI units as the legal units for measurement in the EC. Some other very specific units are also recognised internationally for certain uses, and the Directive also permits 'supplementary indications' of measurement in units other than the legal units.

The proposed changes to the Directive have become necessary to align the Directive to international agreements and decisions. It is also important to extend the deadline concerning the use of supplementary indications. This is due to expire at the end of 1999 under the existing legislation which, if ignored, would lead to incompatibility between European and US legislation. This, in turn, would affect the use of units to indicate the values for quantities.

There are also recommendations, published alongside the draft proposal, which call for changes to US legislation as a short-term solution. This would allow the US to sell products marked with SI units only. At the same time, it is suggested that the EU could adopt an interim measure, as set out in the draft proposal, which would extend the transition period during which supplementary indications in 'non-legal' units are allowed in order to maintain compatibility with US legislation. European manufacturers would then be able to continue to market their products without having to mark them with different units of measurement.

The proposal amendment does not change the status of the SI in the Community and the technical changes for units in the Directive will not have any observable effect on the marketplace. Instead, the changes relate to international agreements and decisions. Three of the amendments are primarily concerned with the format and presentation of units and two amendments update legal definitions.

If the Council and EP agree to adopt the interim measures, it will allow them more time to identify the best course of action.

A copy of the draft proposal for the directive is available from the European Commission, Directorate General III's website at:

URL: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/dg03/whatsnew.htm
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