What is it?
The development of European standards is a voluntary, open and market-driven process carried out by European standardisation organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) with the support of their members (national standardisation committees such as AFNOR, BSI, DIN). A significant share of European standards (up to 80% in the electro-technical field) is derived from the parallel work of international standardisation organisations (ISO, IEC and ITU).
Why is it important?
Standards help manufacturers and their clients to meet a number of their needs with regard to the inter-operability, compatibility, simplification of their products and processes in many different sectors of the industry. European standards facilitate in addition the access of industrial products to the whole of the Internal Market as CEN, CENELEC and ETSI have committed their national standards bodies to withdraw national conflicting standards.
More and more European standards are ‘harmonised’ under a request (or mandate) of the European Commission, in order to facilitate manufacturers’ conformity assessment with the essential requirements laid down in EU legislation, thanks to the principle of presumption of conformity (see NLF issue).
Over the past few years the European Commission has increased pressure to introduce a wide range of societal concerns into its standardisation requests, such as environmental aspects and design according to the principle of ‘accessibility for all’.
This may end up undermining interest from industry, the main funder of European standardisation (over 90% of the total costs), to devote adequate resources to European standardisation work, if the final European standards are not relevant to their market needs.
Standardisation policy is high on our agenda for a number of reasons: firstly, because standards are very relevant to global trade and secondly, because industry needs to preserve both the independence of the standardisation process and its sustainability at European level. We advocate for achieving a balance between making use of harmonised standards to get presumption of conformity to EU product legislation and preserving standardisation as a market-driven process, which should remain voluntary, open and attractive for all stakeholders, including NGOs and SMEs.
How we’ve been engaged
Orgalime is active in the area of standardisation policy not in standards development. Our members are. In order to achieve our objectives, Orgalime regularly contributes to various Commission consultations on the role of standardisation in the framework of EU policy and regulations as well as to those undertaken by the standardisation organisations themselves. Orgalime provided its views to the European institutions on the new Regulation EU 1025/2012. This Regulation renovates the legal framework on European standardisation.
However, we believe that a wider consultation of all interested parties on Commission’s draft standardisation requests is crucial to ensure the market relevance of harmonised standards, now also for the supply of services. Therefore, Orgalime has also actively engaged into the launch of the Industry Group on European Standardisation Strategy – INGRESS – which aims at getting industry’s views taken into consideration by member states in the Committee on Standards under Regulation EU 1025/2012.
Orgalime is a co-operative partner of CEN and CENELEC and participates directly or through its members in technical boards, committees and working groups of CEN and CENELEC.