Standardization is all around us. Ensuring a safer world for citizens, responding to the needs of industry,
meeting consumer expectations and contributing to the consolidation of the European Single Market.

The objective of European standardization is to agree on common specifications and/or procedures that respond to the needs of business and meet consumer expectations.

Standards are part of the knowledge economy that underpins European industry and society. They facilitate innovation and promote the adoption of new technologies.

European Standardization is a key instrument for the consolidation of the Single Market and for strengthening the competitiveness of European companies, thereby creating the conditions for economic growth. European Standards are a valuable tool for facilitating cross-border trade – both within Europe’s single market and also with the rest of the world. They reduce unnecessary costs for both suppliers and purchasers of products and services – in the public and private sectors. Standards can be used to improve safety and performance, raise levels of energy efficiency, and protect consumers, workers and the environment. They complement European and national policies in these areas, and make it easier for companies and other actors to respect relevant legislation.

CEN and CENELEC are international non-profit associations. They are officially recognized as European Standardization Organizations (alongside ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute)

CEN, CENELEC and their national Members and Committees work jointly to develop and define standards that are considered necessary by market actors and/or to support the implementation of European legislation. A majority of European Standards are initiated by stakeholders and developed in partnership with all interested parties. Around 30% are mandated by the European Commission and EFTA in the framework of EU legislation.

The European Standardization System is unique in the world. After the publication of a European Standard, each national standards body or committee is obliged  to withdraw any national standard which conflicts with the new European Standard. Hence, one European Standard becomes the national standard in all the 34 Member countries of CEN and/or CENELEC.

CEN and CENELEC are proud to join other national and international standardization bodies in making the standard development process more gender-responsive, and help achieve Goal 5 ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. If you want to know more about CEN and CENELEC contribution to SDGs and to Goal 5 on Gender Equality more specifically please check our dedicated web pages. CEN and CENELEC's commitments include promoting the Declaration, designing and proactively implementing a Gender Action Plan, and monitoring progress by collecting and sharing success stories and best practices with their Members.


European Standardization 

A key instrument for the Single Market

Standards are documents that set out specifications and other technical information with regard to various kinds of products, materials, services and processes. They provide a basis for mutual understanding among individuals, businesses, public authorities and other kinds of organizations. They facilitate communication, commerce, measurement and manufacturing. European Standards bring benefits to businesses and consumers in terms of reducing costs, enhancing performance and improving safety. They also help to ensure the compatibility of different components, products and services.

European Standards can be used to enhance safety and performance, improve energy efficiency, and protect consumers, workers and the environment. They complement European and national policies, and make it easier for businesses and other actors to respect relevant legislation. European Standardization is a key instrument for consolidating the Single Market and facilitating cross-border trade – within Europe and also with the rest of the world. It is a valuable tool for strengthening the competitiveness of European companies, thereby creating the conditions for economic growth.

One European Standard replaces 34 national standards

The Members of CEN and CENELEC are 43 different National Standardization Bodies/National Committee located in 34 different European countries – including all the Member states of the European Union (EU) and other countries that are part of the European Single Market. CEN and CENELEC work with their Members to develop and define European Standards in response to specific needs that have been identified by businesses and other users of standards. European standards are developed by teams of experts who have particular knowledge of the specific sector or topic that is being addressed. The members of Technical Committees of CEN and CENELEC as well as sub-committees and working groups are nominated by the national standardization organizations. Each National Standardization Body/National Committee that is part of the CEN and CENELEC system is obliged to adopt each European Standard as a national standard and make it available to customers in their country. They also have to withdraw any existing national standard that conflicts with the new European Standard. Therefore, one European Standard (EN) becomes the national standard in all 34 countries covered by CEN and CENELEC Members.

Moreover, many European Standards are also adopted as identical national standards by CEN and CENELEC Affiliates, which are the National Standards Bodies of neighbouring countries, and by National Standardization Bodies in other countries around the world.

European Standards are voluntary

The European Standards published by CEN and CENELEC are developed by experts, established by consensus and adopted by the Members of CEN and/or CENELEC. It is important to note that the use of standards is voluntary, and so there is no legal obligation to apply them.

A tool to comply with European legislation

Around 30% of the European Standards published by CEN and CENELEC have been developed in response to specific requests (so called 'standardization requests') issued by the European Commission. Many of these standards are known as 'harmonized standards'. They enable businesses to ensure that their products or services comply with essential requirements that have been set out in European legislation (EU Directives). In such cases, we can say that the standard provides 'presumption of conformity' with the essential requirements of the relevant legislation.


Why Participate ? 

A wide range of stakeholders participate in standardization activities at national level and also at European level. These stakeholders include: representatives of business
and industry (including SMEs); consumer organizations; professional bodies; certification, testing and inspection bodies; environmental and societal organizations;
public authorities and enforcement bodies, trade associations, trade unions, educational establishments, research organizations, etc.


Participating in standardization activities enables these stakeholders to:

  • gain detailed knowledge of standards and this way, anticipate requirements
    and trends;
  • influence the contents of standards and ensure that their specific needs are
    taken into account; 
  • establish contacts with other stakeholders, experts and regulators at both
    national and European levels.
  • contribute to the development of standards that will ensure increased safety, performance, efficiency and interoperability of products and/or services.

How to get involved ? 

At national level:

At European level:

At international level:


CEN collaborates with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) according to the terms of the Vienna Agreement), while CENELEC works closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) through the Frankfurt Agreement.


At the same time, all of CEN and CENELEC’s national members are also members of either ISO or IEC.


These relationships help to ensure that the interests of European businesses and other stakeholders are also taken into account at international level.

The European Standardization Organizations (ESOs)

The three European Standardization Organizations, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI are officially recognized as competent in the area of voluntary technical standardization.

The European Union (EU) Regulation (1025/2012) which settles the legal framework for standardization, has been adopted by the European Parliament and by the Council of the EU, and entered into force on 1 January 2013.

Cooperation of the European Standardization Organizations

The three European Standardization Organizations cooperate on policy and technical matters of common interest. This cooperation is coordinated by the Joint Presidents’ Group (JPG). As its name implies, JPG comprises the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of CEN and CENELEC and their ETSI equivalents (General Assembly Chair and Vice-Chairs, and ETSI Board Chair), together with the Director General of CEN and CENELEC and the Director General of ETSI.






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