The CE mark
Look on the packaging of anything you buy and you will likely see this symbol. The CE mark.
The letters "CE" are the abbreviation of French phrase "Conformité Européene" and means European Conformity.
You will find the CE mark on many products that are traded in within the EU. The mark is a declaration by manufacturers to say the product they have placed onto the market complies with all the essential requirements of the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation. In practice, this means the products comply with all the product directives necessary and can be freely traded within the European region.
Product Directives contain all the "essential requirements" and/or "performance levels" and "Harmonized Standards" to which the products must conform.
Harmonized Standards are the technical specifications (European Standards or Harmonization Documents) which are established by several European standards agencies (CEN, CENELEC, etc).
European Conformity CE vs China Export CE
To consumers, it provides confidence that the product is safe to use. To regulators, it provides confidence the product may legally placed onto the market. Regulators and authorities undertake random testing of consumer products to ensure they are up to the standards. It is perfectly reasonable to find CE marked products outside of the EU, since some manufacturers cater for a variety of global regions.
Counterfeit products may also contain a CE mark but these are often noticeable since the CE mark has specific proportions and dimensions. If the CE marking does not carry the dimensions as illustrated above, then it is likely a counterfeit. Counterfeiters sometimes make mistakes of having the letters at different heights or widths.
It is also important to ensure you do not confuse the European CE mark with a CE mark on products exported from China. There has been various discussions about whether the mark on products from China actually mean China Export, or are simply a bad case of counterfeit marking.
As consumers purchase CE products thinking they are safe, China Export products are marked with a CE which are much closer together than the European CE mark. The European Commission has previously stated that it does not recognise the China Export mark as valid, and has asked authorities to remove such marked products from the marketplace.