European Standardization

What are European standards?

Standards are documented, non-binding agreements. Standards are therefore not mandatory, you are not required to apply them. Standards have laid down important criteria for goods, services and processes. They contribute to the fact that goods and services are suitable for their purpose, can be compared and mutually compatible. This also applies to European standards, which must also be approved and publicized by a European standardization organization.

How does the European Commission support European standardization?

The Commission encourages companies to apply voluntarily standards that seem useful to it. The Commission, together with all recognized standardization organizations, works on common objectives such as openness, transparency and efficiency, and helps European standardization organizations to interpret Community and international policies, for example in the field of trade, when it is important for their activities.

In addition, the Commission provides financial support to the secretariats of the European Standardization Organizations and can also support special groups representing consumers, environmental groups and small and medium-sized enterprises in standardization. The Commission contributes, where necessary, to the development costs for certain standards and often provides financial support for related research projects.

Why are European standards drawn up?

European standards are drawn up when necessary for the industry, the market or the public. Thus, the industry may need standards to ensure that goods or services are mutually compatible, standards can ensure fair competition and benefit the public from quality and safety standards for goods and services. In addition, European standards are drawn up to facilitate compliance with European rules - such as legislation -.

Who is involved in the preparation of standards?

In principle, everyone can request a new standard. Once there is a formal request, there are a number of procedures. The request will be assigned to the competent committee in the field concerned. This determines whether a standard can and must be prepared.

European standards are a powerful means of increasing the competitiveness of companies in the EU. They contribute to the protection of the environment, health and safety of citizens in Europe.

Standards provide technical solutions to problems and facilitate intra-European trade and cooperation. They promote the transfer and dissemination of technology, which benefits everyone.

Standards in particular support EU policy in key areas such as consumer welfare, environmental protection, trade and the internal market.

Who sets up European standards?

There are three European standardization organizations that draw up European standards:

CEN: The European Committee for Standardization covers all sectors except electronics and telecommunications, www.cenorm.beGo to

CENELEC: The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization deals with electrical engineering standards, www.cenelec.orgGo to

ETSI: The European Standardization Institute for Telecommunications sets standards for telecommunications and certain aspects of radio and television distribution, www.etsi.orgGo to

Who is involved in the preparation of European standards?

Standards play a useful role in the creation of the internal market by serving as the basis for the so-called "new approach" directives. This European legislation sets out the essential requirements for products to be marketed throughout the European Union. The "new approach" guidelines are special because they do not provide technical details but contain general safety requirements.

Manufacturers must technically complete these general "essential" requirements. One of the best ways in which they can do is to apply European standards specifically designed for this purpose. These standards are called "harmonized standards." When applied, there is a "presumption of conformity" with the directive for which they were written.