CE answer is probably wrong

I have it from a friend that CE stands for Conformitee’ Europee’ne, not European Community (or the French equivalent). He works with CE markings.

I have here an article from the March 1995 Croner’s Europe Bulletin entitled “CE Marking” by E. Susan Singleton, described as “solicitor, principal, Singletons,” which I assume is a British law firm. The article is a detailed description of the history and purpose of CE marking. Ms. Singleton writes, “The mark … consists of the letters CE (which stands for European Community).” She goes on to say that some early directives called for an “EC” mark, which presumably makes the connection clearer. Part of the confusion may arise from the fact that official EU documents describing the CE mark almost never say what the letters stand for. My guess is that this is done for political reasons, so as not to appear to favor one language over another.

In doing web searches, not everyone appears to agree on what the CE letters stand for, so maybe they did in fact pick the letters first, and now people are coming up with their own explanations about what it abbreviates. According to the CE Marking and Exporting to Europe page at www.ce-mark.com:

“The letters ‘CE’ are an abbreviation of a French phrase ‘Conformite Europeene’. The marking indicates that the manufacturer has conformed with all the obligations required by the legislation.”

so it looks like a number of people are using this alternate explanation.

I realize this is a comment on an old column, but I happened upon it on your website and thought I might be able to provide further insight. The column in question pertained to whether or not Neil Armstrong flubbed his famous line – the line being the first words he uttered to the world after setting foot on the moon. The way I understand it, Armstrong did, in fact, plan to say and did say, “That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.” The thing is, given the static involved in the transmission, Walter Cronkite – THE anchor of anchors in those days – heard it as “That’s one small step for man,” leaving out the “a” in the process. Whether Walter was simply caught up in the excitement of the entire event or going deaf, we may never know. The thing is, Walter’s words were instantly picked up as the definitive account of the first words of the first man on the moon. And that’s the way it was.>>

I thought I had heard somewhere that for many of CE mark categories, compliance (and therefore application of the mark) was or could be self-declared by the manufacturer. This meant that the CE mark was not only not a guarantee of quality, but it was not even a reliable guarantee of safety in some categories either. Is this still true?

I do know that there are some safety marks, i.e. TUV, the “key” mark (it’s european, but don’t know what agency), ASME, UL, etc. all cannot be applied to the product unless a sample of the product has been tested by a third-party testing organization.

If I am not mistaken, TUV is the abbreviation used for the German association to whom you have to bring your car every couple of years to get them to say its still in good working order and stands for “Technischer Ueberwachungs Verein”. A bit like the English MOT…

You’re not mistaken. In Germany, we must indeed have our cars checked by TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein – roughly: technical supervision association) every two years. But TÜV also checks a lot of other technical things for safety, from household appliances to carnival rides, and its mark can be found on commercial products with increasing frequency.

Legally, TÜV is an independent association, not a government agency. In the car sector, the have at least one major competitor (named Dekra, whatever that stands for) that you can visit instead. I suppose they have to get some sort of certification from the authoritites, though.