European units of measurement directives

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

European Union European Union directive:
Directive 71/354/EEC
Units of Measure Directive
Made byEuropean Council
Made underArt. 100
Journal referenceN C 78, 2 February 1971, P 53
History
Made18 October 1971
Came into force18 April 1973
Preparative texts
Other legislation
Replaced by80/181/EEC
Status: Unknown
 
Jump to: navigation, search
European Union European Union directive:
Directive 71/354/EEC
Units of Measure Directive
Made byEuropean Council
Made underArt. 100
Journal referenceN C 78, 2 February 1971, P 53
History
Made18 October 1971
Came into force18 April 1973
Preparative texts
Other legislation
Replaced by80/181/EEC
Status: Unknown
European Union European Union directive:
Directive 80/181/EEC
Units of Measure Directive
Made byEuropean Council
Made underArt. 100
Journal referenceL39, 15 February 1980, p. 40–50
History
Made20 December 1979
Came into force21 December 1979
Preparative texts
Other legislation
Amended bysee text
Status: Current legislation

As of 2009, the European Union had issued two units of measurement directives: In 1971 it issued Directive 71/354/EEC[1] which required EU member states to standardise on the International System of Units (SI) rather than use a variety of CGS and MKS units then in use. The second, which replaced the first, was Directive 80/181/EEC made in 1979[2] and amended in 1984,[3] 1989,[4] 2000[5] and 2009.[6] It issued a number of derogations to the United Kingdom and Ireland based on the former directive.

Directive 71/354/EEC[edit]

When the first units of measurement directive was issued, the six members of the EEC had been using the metric system for a hundred years or more. During that time the metric system had undergone a number of changes, particularly in science and engineering. Some industries were based on the cgs variant of the metric system and other on the mks variant. In 1960, the CGPM published the International System of Units (SI), a coherent version of the metric system based on the mks variant. Directive 71/354/EEC sought to rationalise the system of units within the EEC by standardising on SI.

The directive catalogued the units of measure that were permitted for measuring instruments (for instance scales), measurements and indications of quantity expressed in units for economic, public health, public safety and administrative purposes. The catalogue was consistent with the SI standard. The directive explicitly proscribed a number of mainly cgs units of measure that were not to be used after 31 December 1977.

The directive explicitly exempted member states from having to use those units of measure in the catalogue in situations where other units of measure had been laid down by international intergovernmental conventions or agreements in the field of air and sea transport and rail traffic.

Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the EEC in 1973. The directive had little impact in Denmark which was in a similar situation to the other EEC member vis-à-vis the use of metric units. Ireland and the United Kingdom were in the process of metrication programmes and the directive was consistent with those countries policies as they stood at the time. The three new member states had five years to implement this directive (as well as all other directives that had been published by the EEC).

Directive 80/181/EEC[edit]

By the late 1970s the metrication programme in the United Kingdom had lost momentum. In particular the Government had decided to postpone the metrication of road signs. Furthermore the metrication of trade in many consumer areas had not been completed. The United Kingdom asked the EEC for a derogation to permit the continued use of imperial units. The result was a repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC and its replacement by Directive 80/181/EEC. The principal changes were:

• A number of units that had been proscribed under Directive 71/354/EEC could continue to be used until the end of 1985.
• A number of imperial units including the pound, ounce, yard, foot, inch, gallon and pint could continue to be used until the end of 1989.
• The mile, yard, foot and inch could be used on road traffic signs, distance and speed measurement, pints could be used for the sale of milk in returnable containers and for the measurement of draught beer and cider, acres could be used for purposes of land registration and troy ounces could be used when dealing with precious metals until a date to be determined by the states in question.
• Supplementary units were permitted until the end of 1989.

Amendments[edit]

• Permitting indefinitely the use of supplementary indications. This will ensure a continued application of the current practice and will allow continuing flexibility as regards nonmetric units when no metric units exist, e.g. binary measurements in computing (bits, bytes).
• Including the new SI unit for catalytic activity (the “katal”), adopted by the General Conference on Weights and Measures.
• Allowing the United Kingdom and Ireland to continue the limited exemptions concerning specified uses of the pint, mile and the troy ounce, considering absence of impact of these exemptions on cross border trade and the principle of subsidiarity; whilst repealing the exemption for the use of acre for land registration which is no longer applied.
• Clarifying the scope of the Directive to be fully in line with the existing Treaties by no longer mentioning specific fields to which the Directive is applicable

These amendments were published on 7 May 2009 and became effective on 1 January 2010.

Public reactions[edit]

Protests in the United Kingdom[edit]

The directive, or more precisely the British legislation amended to implement the directive,[14] was the subject of considerable controversy in the United Kingdom. In particular, some food sellers refused to comply, selling vegetable by the pound without a metric equivalent. Others used only non-metric scales or sold beer or cider by the litre[15] and half-litre, even though the law required the use of pints.[16] Some were convicted of offences under weights and measures legislation and became known as the "Metric Martyrs".

Reactions in the United States[edit]

In spite of the extension till 2009, the provisions of this directive, in particular the provisions prohibiting dual labelling were a cause of serious concern in the United States. In 2005 there were informal consultations between the USA and the EU.[17] In 2006, the US Department of Commerce made US companies aware of potential problems and lobbied for a further extension of dual labelling, which would be more consistent with United States legislation, in particular the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.[18][19][20][21]

Consultations in 2007[edit]

In the light of the impending termination of the acceptance of non-metric units as supplementary units in 2009 and in view of the extension of the SI system at an international level (especially in the United States), the European Commission decided in 2007 to consider amendments to the directive and initiated consultations with interested parties, including the United States government.[22] The United States raised serious concerns concerning mutual trade and incompatibility with US legislation, such as the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.[23] There was also concern as to how the directive would be interpreted.[24][25] Other organisations also voiced criticisms.[26] Many organisation, such as the AeA (formerly the American Electronics Association) advocated a continuation of "dual labelling".[27] Eurosceptic groups in the UK, such as the United Kingdom Independence Party also expressed concern.[28] Other US trade organisations pointed to incompatibilities with US legislation[29] and noted that the directive applies not just to labelling but also to advertising, instruction manuals, etc.[30] The report on the consultations lists other problems in the United States.

Many different groups and individuals contributed to the consultations on amendments to the directive carried out in 2007. The majority of private individuals who responded were in favour of ending the use of supplementary indications.[31] However, without exception the European and American industry federations and individual firms who responded were in favour of retaining supplementary indications for another ten years or indefinitely. They pointed to conflicting federal law in the United States that would have necessitated relabelling. All member states who responded were also in favour of extending supplementary indications.[12]

Response to the European Commission proposal[edit]

The proposal met with measured approval by advocacy groups that had opposed the legislation.[32][33] The Commission proposal was also welcomed, even before it was officially published, by metrication advocates in the United States, who hoped that it would help promote the cause of metrication in the United States.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Council Directive 71/354/EEC: On the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement". The Council of the European Communities. 18 October 1971. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  2. ^ The Council of the European Communities (21 December 1979). "Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Unit of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC". Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  3. ^ The Council of the European Communities (20 December 1984). "Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Unit of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC". Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  4. ^ The Council of the European Communities (30 November 1989). "Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Unit of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC". Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  5. ^ The Council of the European Communities (9 February 2000). "Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Unit of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC". Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  6. ^ The Council of the European Communities (27 May 2009). "Council Directive 80/181/EEC of 20 December 1979 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to Unit of measurement and on the repeal of Directive 71/354/EEC". Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "Council Directive 89/617/EEC of 27 November 1989 amending Directive 80/181/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement". Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "Council Directive 89/617/EEC of 27 November 1989 amending Directive 80/181/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement". Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  9. ^ "Directive 1999/103/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 January 2000 amending Council Directive 80/181/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement". Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  10. ^ "Directive 2009/3/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 amending Council Directive 80/181/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement". Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  11. ^ "COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT on units of measurement (Directive 80/181/EEC)". 22 December 2006. Retrieved 8 February 2009. 
  12. ^ a b Commission of the European Communities (26 June 2007). "Report on the public consultation on the Commission Staff Working Document on units of measurement (Directive 80/181/EEC)" (pdf). Commission of the European Communities. Retrieved 19 May 2008. 
  13. ^ "COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT pursuant to the second subparagraph of Article 251 (2) of the EC Treaty concerning the common position of the Council on the adoption of a proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 80/181/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to units of measurement". 19 November 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2009. 
  14. ^ Hartley, Trevor C. (2004). European Union Law in a Global Context: Text, Cases and Materials. Cambridge: University Press. p. 163. ISBN 0-521-82030-8. 
  15. ^ "Anger over ban on beer in litres". BBC. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2009. 
  16. ^ "Statutory Instrument 1988 No. 2039 – The Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988". Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 16 November 1988. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  17. ^ National Institute of Standards and Technology, Weights and Measures Division, Laws and Metric Group (2 March 2005). "Report of Meeting with EU Representatives Brussels, Belgium". NIST. Retrieved 19 May 2008. 
  18. ^ Gwen Lyle (July 2006). "Business Alert: Metric Only Requirements for the European Union begin 2010" (pdf). U.S. Commercial Service Mission to the European Union, Department of Commerce. Retrieved 25 May 2008. "Beginning January 1, 2010, the European Union Council Directive 80/181/EEC (Metric Directive) will allow the use of only metric units, and prohibit the use of any other measurements for most products sold in the European Union (EU). Going well beyond labelling, the Metric Directive will make the sole use of metric units obligatory in all aspects of life in the European Union, extending to areas such as product literature and advertising." 
  19. ^ EU Standards/ Metric Directive – U.S. Commercial Service Germany
  20. ^ Commerce Department Invite Regarding EU Metric Directive 2010
  21. ^ US White House Federal Register: 06-8618
  22. ^ http://ts.nist.gov/WeightsAndMeasures/Metric/mpo_home.cfm>
  23. ^ "Comments of the United States on Council Directive 80/181/EEC on the Approximation of the Laws of the Member States Relating to the Units of Measurement" (PDF). NIST. 28 February 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2007. 
  24. ^ EU Metric Directive Update
  25. ^ http://www.scte.org/documents/standards/bulletin/Winter20062007.pdf
  26. ^ CalChamber Supports Dual Metric/Non-Metric Labels – California Chamber of Commerce
  27. ^ http://www.aeanet.org/Forums/SubmissiontoconsultationonMetricLabellingDirective27_02_07.asp
  28. ^ http://www.ukipcambs.co.uk/news.php?subaction=showfull&id=1161333116&archive=&start from=&uca=3&TB=home6
  29. ^ AASA Events—Article Detail
  30. ^ MEMA Publications
  31. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/prepack/unitmeas/uni_ms_result-a-priv_person.htm
  32. ^ http://www.afterdawn.com/news/press_releases/press_release.cfm/708/hackney_council_seize_imperial_weighing _scales
  33. ^ http://www.bwmaonline.com/EC%20%Directive%20%20%EC%20proposals%20Sept%202007.htm
  34. ^ US Metric Association (6 June 2007). "EU Metric Directive Update". Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2008. 

External links[edit]