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European Standards

27 August 2009
by inadim -- last modified 25 June 2010

European standards are voluntary, Europe-wide agreements which set out criteria for manufactured products. Standards help to make sure that products are fit for their purpose, safe, comparable and compatible.


European harmonised standards

Standards are shaped by consensus among enterprises, public authorities, consumers, and trade unions, through a consultation process organised by independent, recognised standardisation bodies at national, European and international level.

A harmonised standard is elaborated on the basis of a request from the European Commission to a recognised European Standards Organisation to develop a standard that provides solutions for compliance with a legal provision. Such a request provides guidelines which standards must respect to meet the essential requirements of a 'New Approach' or another relevant directive.

Compliance with harmonised standards provides a presumption of conformity with the corresponding requirements of the 'New Approach' directives and other relevant directives. Manufacturers can use harmonised standards to demonstrate that products comply with EU legislation.

To create the capacity to confer this presumption of conformity, the references of harmonised standards must be published in the EU Official Journal.

The use of these standards remains voluntary. Manufacturers are free to choose any other technical solution that provides compliance with the essential requirements.

EU labelling standards

The European standards are developed by the three European standards organisations:

CEN (European Committee for Standardisation which deals with all sectors except the electro-technology and telecommunications sectors);

CENELEC (European Committee for Electro technical Standardisation which deals with standards in the electro-technical field);

ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute which covers the telecommunications field).

The references to European product standards under the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) that confer compliance with the Directive’s safety requirement are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Publication of references to standards under GPSD

New Approach Standardisation joint website of the three European standards Organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) together with both the European Commission and EFTA.

Results of the survey on consumer representation in standardisation

In 2004, the European Commission conducted a survey to assess the participation of consumer representatives in the work of standard-setting bodies at national, European and international level

The objective was to collect information on consumer associations’ experiences, views and needs relating to the representation of consumer interests in standardisation activities.

The results confirmed that consumer organisations are aware of the importance of taking part in standardisation activities to ensure a greater representation of consumers’ interests throughout the process. However, they require a more consistent and binding framework and increased financial and technical support to ensure that their intervention is active and efficient.

The evaluation report gives a clear picture of the current consumer representation in standardisation in the European Union and reflects on opportunities for improvement

Source: European Commission