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Communication from the Commission: Greening standards

European standardisation offers great potential to advance the protection of our environment. It could, for example, improve the energy efficiency of electrical products, the recyclability of products and the environmental impacts of buildings. Additionally, standardisation promotes Europe's challenge (Lisbon strategy) to become the most competetive single market. Therefore, standardisation could be taken as another significant step towards the Commission's sustainable development policy. This is the message of a Communication from the European Commission entitled: "The integration of environmental aspects into standardisation" (COM (2004) 130 final), which was adopted on 25 February 2004.

In October 2004, the Commission issued a Communication on the role of European standardisation in the framework of European policies and legislation (COM (2004) 674). This Communication stressed again the role that standardisation could play in promoting environmental protection.

How is the Commission moving towards its goals in the area of the environment and standardisation? Read more...

Follow-up of the Communication on the integration of environmental aspects into standardisation

Implementation measures as follow-up to the Communication

a) CENELEC environmental database

Since December 2006, the new CENELEC environmental database is online. This database has been established under co-funding of the Commission and offers a tool for standard writers in Technical Committees as well as all other stakeholders. The database allows free access to information about environmental aspects already incorporated in CENELEC standards and various search options according to environmental aspect, Stage of a product's life cycle, target group of information only to mention some of them.

The database was established in order to:

  • Provide transparency about the uptake of environmental thinking by standardisation,
  • Encourage and assist technical bodies to consider environmental issues as part of their activities,
  • Serve as a knowledge base for standards writers and stakeholders involved or interested in standardisation for environmental aspects, already addressed in standards and allowing to identify existing and transferable approaches
  • identify systematically areas for improvement of the environmental profile of standards.

There is a regular update cycle defined for the database which allows for dynamic integration of new information according to feed-back and progress in standardisation work in CENELEC technical committees.

Follow this link to access to the database.

Currently, a feasibility study is conducted in order to explore the expansion of the database also for CEN standards.

b) CEN training programme for standard writers and environmental experts active in standardisation

As of 2007, CEN under leadership of the British standards institute is going to arrange a 12 months pilot training programme aimed at both, standard writers and environmental experts active in standardisation.

The training programme for standard writers comprises raising awareness for systematic integration of environmental aspects into standards, tools available therefore, practical examples how to address environmental aspects in standards and to give an overview over the environmental framework within CEN. 10 training sessions are foreseen in total.

For environmental experts involved in standardisation the training programme offers information on how to effectively and efficiently contributing to the standardisation process and the basic procedures and principles of standardisation. 4 training sessions are foreseen in total.

The participants in the training seminars are going to be nominated by the national and European standardisation institutions respectively by environmental NGOs. Please find here Programmes and Registration Forms for both Training Workshops.

c) Follow-up workshop on Commission Communication (2004)130

To report on the latest developments concerning the implementation of concrete measures addressed in the COM (2004)130 in early 2007 a 4th follow-up workshop will be organised by DG ENTR. As soon as further information is available, this will be announced here.

Workshop on 02 December 2005, Brussels, Belgium

European and international standards are gaining increasing importance as a tool to support European policies and legislation. The breadth of the role of standards here is reinforced by the recently published Action Plan on European Standardisation that also sets out particular tasks in relation to standardisation and the environment.

The success of standards in support of legislation is based upon the model of the “New Approach” to technical harmonisation of the European Union, which in fact celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Within this approach, legislation sets the legal performance-oriented framework and objectives, whereas the detailed technical specifications for implementation are addressed in standards - compliance with which remains voluntary.

Given this role of standardisation as a tool for European legislation, and bearing in mind that standardisation also can be used to support European policies and is a tool for legislative simplification, wide and balanced stakeholder representation and participation are essential in the standardisation process.

The latest workshop in December 2005 set out to answer the question of whether the current model of standardisation offers a sufficiently broad consensus and balanced participation of all involved and affected stakeholders? It concentrated on the challenge of how to address stakeholder involvement for the integration of environmental aspects into European standardisation.

You can find the workshop programme, presentations and a list of participants here.

Workshop on 16 November 2004, Bled, Slovenia

A second Workshop dedicated to the issue of "Environmental aspects and their integration in European standardisation" was organised by the Commission. The Slovenian Institute for Standardization (SIST) hosted this event on 16 November 2004 in Bled / Slovenia.

Issues that were adressed:

  • environmental tools: which are still there and how can they be used effectively for standardisation work,
  • stakeholder involvement: how can balanced standards be reached by representation of all relevant stakeholders in the standardisation processes?
  • expert training: how to make experts being involved in standardisation fit for the new challenge of environmental thinking?

Please find hereafter the final workshop programme and presentations as well as the list of participants.

Workshop on 11 June 2004, Brussels, Belgium

This workshop followed the recent adoption of the Communication COM (2004) 130 final on Integration of Environmental aspects into European Standardisation. The one-day workshop was organised by the Commission in the Albert Borschette Centre (Brussels) and aimed at further developing several initiatives which were agreed between different stakeholders and which should help to move the situation forward.

Please find hereafter the final programme of the day and the list of participants, along with the 13 presentations (pdf file ~ 4,8 Mb) given by a wide range of speakers coming from the European or national standardisation bodies, European or national NGOs and private companies.

Conclusions of the Council

On 4 October 2004 the Council conclusions on integration of environmental aspects into European standardisation (see page 24) have been adopted.

Following Commission's  the Council calls for

  • support for NGO's participation in the standardisation process
  • more training for experts involved in standardisation
  • better integration of environmental aspects in the preparation of standardisation requests

Consultation of stakeholders

A consultation of all interested parties was organised in 2003 in preparation for the Communication.

Report summarising the responses received de en fr (PDF format)

For further information, please contact:

European Commission
Uwe Furnier
Environment Directorate-General/G2
B - 1049 Brussels 

European Commission
Enterprise Directorate-General
Standardisation Unit
B - 1049  Brussels