FAQs for SMEs

Frequently Asked Questions for SMEs 

You will find below basic information about standards, how they add value for your business and how other SMEs use standards.
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A harmonized standard "is a European standard elaborated on the basis of a request from the European Commission to a recognized European Standards Organisation (CEN, CENELEC or ETSI) to develop a European standard that provides solutions for compliance with a legal provision. Such a request provides guidelines which requested standards must respect to meet the essential requirements or other provisions of relevant European Union harmonization legislation.

Compliance with harmonized standards provides a presumption of conformity with the corresponding requirements of harmonization legislation. Manufacturers, other economic operators or conformity assessment bodies can use harmonised standards to demonstrate that products, services or processes comply with relevant EU legislation."
List of Harmonised Standards: please click on 'Subject (short title of directive)' to view the list of titles and references of harmonised standards under the directive.

Standards are all around us, even if we are not always aware of them. One example of a widely-used standard is the A4 size for sheets of paper. A standard is a document that sets out requirements for a specific item, material, component, system or service, or describes in detail a particular method or procedure. They facilitate international trade by ensuring compatibility and interoperability of components, products and services.

  • They bring benefits to businesses and consumers in terms of reducing costs, enhancing performance and improving safety.
  • For more information, check out "About European Standards" section 
  • To help you find the right standards for your business, check out the "search standards" page

The CEN and CENELEC Management Centre does not sell or distribute Standards or any other deliverable.

Published standards and drafts, as well as other European technical deliverables are directly available for purchase from the CEN and CENELEC European network of national members. These local standards organizations can also provide you with a range of tailored services e.g. advice to take advantage of the benefits of standards, support to use standards, etc.


The European Standardization Organizations (ESOs) CEN, CENELEC and ETSI are involved in a successful partnership with the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association. The ESOs support European legislations in helping the implementation of the European Directives and Regulations, particularly those developed under the New Approach Directive (Guidance document).

To support its policies and legislation, the European Commission requests the ESOs to develop and adopt European Standards, by means of 'Standardization Requests’ (SReq). Those European Standards developed in response to a request are called 'Harmonized Standards'.

Conformity assessment is a demonstration that specified requirements relating to a product, process, system, person or body are fulfilled. The purpose of conformity assessment is to provide confidence that applicable requirements have been met. Such confidence contributes to the market acceptance of these products, services and systems. The generic term conformity assessment includes activities such as testing, inspection, certification and accreditation.

CEN and CENELEC provide a range of European Standards and other publications for the implementation and recognition of good conformity assessment practices.

The 'CE marking' (sometimes improperly known as 'CE Mark') represents the declaration that the product conforms to all applicable European legislation.

A useful reference is the European Commission's 'Guide to the implementation of Directives based on the New Approach and Global Approach', more specifically Chapter 7 dedicated to CE Marking, which can be downloaded here.



More FAQs are available here

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