Standardization is a voluntary process of developing technical specifications based on consensus among all interested parties: industry, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), consumers, trade unions, environmental and other non-governmental organizations, public authorities, etc. Standardization in Europe is implemented by independent standards bodies, acting at national, European and international level. While the use of standards remains voluntary, the European Union has, since the mid-1980s, made an increasing use of standards in support of its policies and legislation.
CEN, CENELEC and ETSI are recognized by the European Union as a European Standardization Organizations (ESOs). The legal framework for this cooperation is set out in EU Regulation 1025/2012, which entered into force on 1 January 2013.
The ESO bring together knowledge and expertise from their members, from business, industry and from other stakeholders, in order to develop European Standards for products, materials, services and processes. These European Standards encompass the latest techniques and technologies
When they are correctly applied, European Standards ensure quality, performance and interoperability. They help to protect the environment, as well as the health and safety of consumers and workers.
European standards are market driven and any stakeholder affected by a standard can have a say in its development. Technical committees drawn from representatives from businesses of all sizes, government, trade associations, research environment, as well as society at large determine the contents of standards. Industry is a key player – whether as a direct member of the process in ETSI or through the national delegations in CEN and CENELEC. The participation of ‘societal’ stakeholders in the standardization process brings a strong and important dimension of accountability. The public authorities are also key stakeholders in this field; they act as drivers for standardization through legislation, standardization mandates and public procurement calls and policy. They provide significant funding to standardization, both for the ESOs and the NSBs.