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Frequently asked questions


What are European Standards ?

Standards are documented, voluntary agreements which establish important criteria for products, services and processes. Standards, therefore, help to make sure that products and services are fit for their purpose and are comparable and compatible.

This is equally true for European standards. However, for a standard to be European, it has to be adopted by one of the European Standards Organisations and be publicly available.

Why are European standards developed?

European standards are developed when there is a significant industry, market or public need. For example, industry could need a standard to ensure the interoperability of a product or service. The market might use a standard to make sure that competition was fair. The public would benefit from a standard which improved the quality and safety of a product or service. European standards are also developed to help people comply with European legislation on policies such as the single market.

In fact, most standards are developed for a combination of reasons and give many different benefits to a variety of stakeholders.

How are European standards developed?

In theory, requests for new standards can come from anywhere and anyone. Once a request has been formally made, it finds its way through the different procedures and is given to the most appropriate committee. It is there that the decision is taken on whether a standard should, and could, be developed.

This flow chart shows all the major stages in the development of a European standard.

What is a harmonised standard?

"Harmonised standard" makes reference to a European standard (EN) adopted on the basis of a standardisation request (mandate) by the Commission and adopted according to Art. 10 of Reg. (EU) No 1025/2012 for the application of Union harmonisation legislation.

Relevant Union harmonisation legislation usually specifies that products or services which are in conformity with harmonised standards of parts thereof, the references of which have been published in the Official Journal of the EU, shall be presumed to be in conformity with the corresponding legal requirements covered by those standards or parts thereof.

How can I access European Union Legislation?

EUR-Lex The access to European Union law provides direct free access to the full text of any legislative act (in all official EU languages). The system makes it possible to consult the Official Journal of the European.

The texts of the New Approach and standards-receptive directives and their consolidated versions can be obtained from the 'List of directives and subjects'.

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