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What is the Recreational Craft Directive? PDF Print E-mail

EU legislation lays down technical and administrative requirements for the free circulation of recreational craft in the EU.

Recreational craft marketed in the EU must comply with harmonised technical safety and environmental requirements and meet a number of administrative obligations defined by Directive 94/25/EC, as amended in 2003. These safety and environmental requirements address the design and construction of the craft, and set limit values for their exhaust and noise emissions.

The Directive also requires the manufacturer to keep a technical file of all relevant data and to officially declare the conformity of his product. A CE marking must be affixed on the product and the manufacturer has to provide users with detailed information about safe use and maintenance.

Preserving the environment, ensuring consumer protection and improving the European free market are among the key goals of the EU. In an effort to contribute to these objectives, a number of safety and environmental requirements have been established for recreational craft.

The key element of European legislation on recreational craft is Directive 94/25/EC, which classifies recreational craft and lays down safety requirements for their design and construction, as well as environment requirements regarding their exhaust and noise emissions. The Directive defines recreational craft as boats of any type, regardless of their means of propulsion, with 2.5 to 24m hull lengths. It provides for a number of exceptions (e.g. racing craft, as well as for canoes, kayaks, gondolas and pedalos) and derogations concerning the application of these requirements (e.g. for craft self-built by their end user).

The design and construction requirements of the Directive cover structural integrity, handling characteristics and installation. For this purpose, four design categories (Ocean, Offshore, Inshore, Sheltered waters) have been established.

Exhaust and noise emission limits were introduced by Directive 2003/44/EC, with a view to contributing to the protection of the environment and well-being and health of citizens. Exhaust emission limits (for carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates) are specified depending on whether the boat is propelled by a two-stroke or four-stroke petrol engine or by a diesel engine. This Directive, which combines the promotion of competitiveness with the protection of the environment and the citizen, was gradually introduced and has been fully in force since 31 December 2006.

The Directive also requires boat and engine manufacturers to keep a technical file on all relevant data, and to officially declare the compliance of their product using a Declaration of Conformity (DoC), to affix the CE marking to it, and to inform users about safe use and maintenance through a builder's plate and owner's manual.