In product development in the EU today, the requirement to conform with EU directives and other legal statutes is pervasive.
And while engineers usually manage to fulfil these requirements on the technical level quite well, it can be disillusioning to hear them talk about the perceived legal mechanisms.
The notion that standards (by IEC or ISO) themselves carry legal force is surprisingly common. Also, many engineers actually believe that EU directives are directly binding law.
But that's just false. So I'd like to broadly paint the picture of the interplay of EU directives, national laws and international standards.
As an example I choose the Directive 2006/42/EG, concerning machinery.
This is just one example, but it's a blueprint for other directives, as well. The relevant law may be a different one, but it works just the same.
So, legally it works like this: