What is a standard?
A standard is an agreement between the parties involved, such as manufacturers, sellers, purchasers, users and regulators of a particular product, process or service.
It contains a technical specification or other precise criteria designed to be used consistently as a rule, guideline, or definition.
Its adoption ensures to all operators a clear reference in terms of technical specifications, quality, performance and reliability. Its objective is to ensure that products and services are suitable for their purpose and they are comparable and compatible.
Standards are a summary of best practice. Their creation arises from the experience and expertise of all interested parties and they are drawn up to meet the demands of society and technology.
Any standard is the result of a collective work that involves producers, users, research organisations, and consumers. The work is coordinated by standardisation bodies.
On an international level, the most important standardisation body is ISO (International Organisation for Standardization).
Standardisation bodies on a European level are:
- CEN (European Committee for Standardization)
- CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization)
- ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute)
European Standards (ENs) are documents that have been ratified by one of the 3 European Standards Organizations, CEN, CENELEC or ETSI. They are designed and created by all interested parties through a transparent, consensual process. ENs are a key component of the Single European Market and are crucial in facilitating trade.
The fact that European Standards must be transposed into a national standard in all member countries guarantees that a manufacturer has easier access to the market of all these European countries when applying European Standards. Member countries must also withdraw any conflicting national standard: the EN prevails over any national standard.
“Harmonised standards” are European standards, adopted by one of the European Standardisation Organisations, following a mandate issued by the European Commission after consultation of Member States.
Compliance with harmonised standards, of which the reference numbers have been published in the Official Journal and which have been transposed into national standards, provides presumption of conformity to the corresponding essential requirements of the European directives.
In the case of New Approach Directives (link to legal framework!), compliance with harmonised standards means CE marking conformity (link to CE-marking !). Although CE marking compliance can be demonstrated by other means than compliance with harmonised standards, it remains the easiest way.
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