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Monday, April 17, 2000


If it doesn’t have CE,
it can’t be sold
in Europe

So we work and work and break stories of global significance in the Star-Bulletin every day (right?) and our columnists win prestigious publishing awards, and you, Kimo Q. Public, you rarely respond. You yawn and say, business as usual.

Wat Dat?BUT we print an item indicating we're confused about the mysterious letters "CE" appearing on many consumer products and -- good night nurse! -- the emails and letters come flooding in. Piles and piles.

Look on the backs, bottoms and tags of almost any recent commercial product. There it is. CE. CE. CE. CE. Along with the Underwriter Laboratories logo and the Universal Product Code and other mysterious symbols that, for all we know, indicate that the product was manufactured on Mars.

It is unlikely that the CE means, as suggested by ex-Lt. Gov. Jean Sadako King, "Chance 'Em!" But we'd like it to, nonetheless.

No such luck. It means -- hold on to your poodles! -- "Conformite Europeene." And the technical term is "CE Mark."

Essentially, the 15 nations of the European Union, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, agreed on a bunch of trade rules called the "New Approach Directives." Any product that meets the health and safety standards of these directives can proudly wear the CE Mark. No nation in this group can block importation of a CE-stamped product.

So, CE is a combination passport, safety sticker and duty-free stamp. It would be a good thing to have on your product, as it can't be sold in Europe or Iceland without it.

Bad news is, the Directives' standards might be higher than your native country. For tech stuff, check out

Burl Burlingame, Star-Bulletin

Curious about something you've seen? Ask us: WatDat?, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, HI 96802, fax at 523-7863 or e-mail at

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