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European standards

International activities

Europe has an interest in international standardisation because of its potential to eliminate technical barriers to trade and to increase market access for all. International standardisation also offers the possibility to promote and disseminate technologies.

International standards have a maximum effect in trade facilitation when they are part of a single and coherent set of standards. If international standards are used in relation to technical regulations as promoted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, international standards bodies need to have a clearly defined constituency. The relevant WTO principles taken as a whole ensure that international standards bodies are open to participation by national standards bodies and produce international standards that do not conflict with each other.

It may be beneficial to channel standards, specifications and other deliverables into the international standardisation process that have reached a certain consensus outside international standards bodies.

Co-operative arrangements with international standards bodies offer a systematic framework to take over international standards and/or to contribute to the international standards making process.

The Vienna and Dresden Agreements are useful examples how to enable for input, to avoid double work or to speed up standardisation work:

  • Vienna Agreement: between the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN)
  • Dresden Agreement: between the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC)

In this regard, it is important to ensure that the maintenance of the international standard is considered first with the international standards body who may decide whether or not to delegate the maintenance responsibility to the originating body.

The Community generally supports, in line with its political objectives, the development of a (preferably regional) infrastructure for standardisation. The European Commission also promotes the creation of legal and economic conditions which facilitate trade and which are receptive to the use of voluntary consensus standards.

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