A standard is a technical document designed to be used as a rule, guideline or definition. It is a consensus-built, repeatable way of doing something. Standards are created by bringing together all interested parties such as manufacturers, consumers and regulators of a particular material, product, process or service. All parties benefit from standardization through increased product safety and quality as well as lower transaction costs and prices.
A European Standard (EN) automatically becomes a national standard in the 31 member countries. Besides European Standards (EN), CEN also develops Technical Specifications (TS) and Technical Reports (TR). These deliverables are developed easier and faster than European standards.
A Technical Specification can be produced when there is no immediate need for a European standard or when the technology is not mature enough to develop a standard. Technical Specifications require less time to be developed and do not have to be adopted by the national members. A Technical Specification can be converted into a European Standard when deemed ready.
A Technical Report contains information on the technical content of standardization work. This information is not suitable to be published as an EN or TS. A Technical Report may include, for example, data obtained from a survey, data on work in other organizations, or any other data that might be useful to a CEN member.
European Standards also differ from Technical Specifications and Technical Reports in that European standard are circulated for public comment (CEN Enquiry). Every concerned group or person (e.g. consumers, manufacturers, public authorities etc.) may comment on a draft version of a European Standard.
The standard making process
The flowchart below shows the typical process for the proposal, development, adoption and publication of a European Standard by a Technical Committee.
|Proposal stage||A proposal for a European Standard may come from any interested party. The European Commission can also request the CEN to prepare a standard in support a European legislation. This type of standardization activity is 'mandated' by the European Commission.|
Once a standardization project has been accepted by the TC, national work is put on hold to allow all efforts to be focused on European harmonization.
The proposal is allocated to one of the TC Working Groups for the drafting of the standard. The working groups are composed of experts nominated by CEN national members. The experts in the working group are representatives of national stakeholders.
|Public Enquiry||Once the draft of a European Standard is deemed ready by TC/278, the draft standard is sent to the national standardization organizations for comment. This process is known as ‘Enquiry’.|
|Approval stage||The final draft standard is drawn up considering the comments and is then forwarded to the NSOs for a vote on whether or not to adopt the draft as a standard. The voting process is based upon weighted votes, based upon the population of the Member State.|
|Publication||After adoption, the European standard is published as a national standard by the NSOs without any change and conflicting national standards are withdrawn.|
Practice of voting
A key feature in the development of a European Standard, and one from which it gains strengthand legitimacy, is agreement of all interested parties.The degreeof consensus is evaluated and measured at different stages, at different levels and in different ways during the development of a European Standard.
|(1)||The first stage to reach consensus is when adopting a new work item. A EN or a TS can only be adopted when minimal 65% of the weitghted counted votes are positive. The decision for a TR shall be taken by simple majority. In all cases the commitment of a least 5 Member States is required. The first stage ensures that there is a real need for a the proposed work item and that the necessary resources are available.|
|(2)||The second stage to reach consensus at the Working Group (WG) level amongst the WG members. Before a draft is submitted to the TC for further processing, the level of consensus within the WG is evaluated by the WG Convenor.|
|(3)||Once the TC Secretary and TC Chairperson have approved the finalized draft, the draft is forwarded to the CEN members for voting and comments. This process is known as CEN Enquiry. Consensus at TC level amongst the CEN Members is assessed by the TC Secretary at the close of the CEN Enquiry.|
|(4)||The final draft standard is drawn up considering the comments and is then forwarded to the CEN members for a Formal vote on whether or not to adopt the draft as a standard. The voting process is based upon weighted votes. When voting at the Formal Vote, CEN National Members have only three possibilities: approval, disapproval or abstention. It is essential for the CEN National Members to reflect in their vote the balance of the opinions/positions of all interested parties in their country.|