The European Commission today published its working document on the evaluation of the Machinery Directive (MD): https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/29232.
The Machinery Directive is assessed as generally suitable for the purpose and continues to provide, in an effective and efficient manner, the expected benefits for machine users.
The conclusions of the evaluation indicate the following elements of potential improvement:
- provide further legal clarity for certain provisions (eg definitions in the new legislative framework),
- a need for greater consistency with other legislative acts (eg the Pressure Equipment Directive, the Low Voltage Directive),
- simplification of certain administrative provisions and improvement of the control and enforcement mechanisms of the Directive.
With regard to the adequacy of the Directive to new technologies, it is considered that the Directive is sufficiently flexible to cope with new technological developments. However, some aspects of the new innovations (in the field of Artificial Intelligence or the Internet of Things) may exceed the limits of the current security framework and reduce the ability of the Directive to deal with them effectively in the future. In the working paper the Commission notes that during the consultation process of the evaluation study some Member States suggested that the essential health and safety requirements should be more explicit to address emerging digital technologies (eg ergonomic aspects that may exist when the people interact or work with robots with artificial intelligence).
As regards the next steps envisaged, the Commission has announced that it will conduct a separate study to further assess specific issues related to emerging technologies (eg human-robot cooperation) that are not explicitly addressed in the Directive nowadays. The Impact Assessment process in view of the revision of the Directive as well as this further external study should be launched by the end of the 2018.