- Constitution and organisation
- Vision and mission
- Values and principles
- Services and products
- Support to European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) policies
- Co-operation in European and international standardization
CEN is a major provider of European Standards and technical specifications. It is the only recognised European Organisation according to Directive 83/189 (now called Directive 98/34/EC) for the planning, drafting and adoption of European Standards in all areas of economic activity with the exception of electro-technology (CENELEC) and telecommunication (ETSI).
CEN has a particular responsibility due to the New Approach where standards define specific technical details in connection with European legislation (see GD - The 'New Approach') and the New Legislative Framework – NLF.
European standardization has a variety of stakeholders:
National Standards Bodies (NSB), which constitute the final decision-makers within CEN;
Associates, who represent interest groups of various dimensions at European level;
Affiliates, which are NSBs from central and Eastern Europe included in the European Neighborhood Policy.;
governmental bodies and other public authorities, including EC/EFTA;
private companies of all sizes, from various industrial and service sectors;
trade associations at European and national level;
public and private institutions, including universities and other academic bodies;
social partners, ie. representatives of particular interest groups at European and national level;
Partner standardization bodies;
a wide range of representatives from the conformity assessment community including testing and certification.
Many of these stakeholders are at the same time customers and "standards producers".
CEN is an international association governed by Belgian law.
More information on
its constitution can be found in the The Statutes of CEN (E
the role and responsibilities of the different constituting bodies and main actors in the section 'Organisation'
lists of members, affiliates, etc …, go to 'Useful Hyperlinks'.
CEN, as the integrated system for European standardization, aims to:
support and strengthen the achievement of the European Single Market;
enhance the competitiveness of European players in the global market;
foster the European economy and the welfare of European citizens under the global concept of sustainable development;
ensure the most efficient input of Europe to international standardization activities and cooperation;
through the delivery of formal standards, other deliverables and related services needed by interested parties in Europe, working closely with CENELEC and as closely as possible with ETSI to achieve all sectoral market needs.
CEN's strategic agenda up to 2013, was confirmed by a General Assembly decision in November 2010. Its contents are summarised below.
CEN's vision is to make a contribution to Europe’s innovative capacity and global competitiveness and sustainable growth, and to the welfare of its citizens, by being the organisation of choice for raising standards.
CEN's mission is to fulfil the needs of our customers by:
- Being a leading partner of European Standards and related products and services for the benefit of all stakeholders and standard users in Europe, through transparent, balanced and consensus-based processes within a sustainable infrastructure, including the promotion of innovative products and emerging technologies;
- Ensuring the quality, safety, environment and interoperability requirements for products, services and organisations;
- Adapting proactively to new developments and supporting European competitiveness, the protection of the environment and sustainable growth for the wellbeing of its citizens and strengthening of the internal market;
- Promoting the European Standardization System and its results, leading the implementation of best practice in standardisation around the world.
- Openness and development dimension
- Impartiality and consensus
- Viability and stability
Development of normative documents by the interested parties themselves
Participation in standards development through national and other legitimate European delegations
Public enquiry by CEN national members
Formal vote to approve standards made via CEN national members
Subsidiarity within the European context;
Development of documents within an optimal time frame depending on the specific sector/ market (efficiency and accountability)
Standstill on the development of national standards during the development of European Standards in the same area
Mandatory implementation of European Standards at national level (publication and withdrawal)
Regular review of standards
Close cooperation with ISO (Vienna Agreement) and with CENELEC and ETSI to avoid conflict and duplication
Commitment to CEN Workshop Agreements open to interested parties (not limited only to European nations) directly, with reduced requirements for level of consensus
The list of CEN deliverables and related description can be found in the guidance 'CEN deliverables'.
In addition to the main deliverables, associated services include:
The basic customers of the system, both of the process and of the deliverables, are:
industry, services, commerce and other market players and public and private institutions;
public authorities (the European Union and EFTA have decided on a general policy of referring to European Standards in legislation and on harmonised procedures for conformity assessment);
other interest groups such as consumers, environmental protection associations, trade unions, conformity assessment community.
CEN supports the policies of the EU and EFTA for free trade, worker and consumer safety, interoperability of networks, environmental protection, exploitation of research, innovation and development programmes, public procurement and others (see also guidance document on 'Public Procurement').
The 'New Approach' (see also guidance document The 'New Approach' or the website: http://www.newapproach.org ). The ‘New Approach’ has been revised and interpreted in the New Legislative Framework.
The European Communities' Council resolution of 7 May 1997 moved away from the concept of directives, which included detailed technical specifications. It provided instead that:
- legislative harmonisation should be limited to the essential requirements (or other requirements in the general interest), these being obligatory and formulated in general terms;
- the establishment of technical specifications necessary for the implementation of directives should be entrusted to the voluntary standards organisations;
- the standards would not be mandatory;
- there would be a presumption of conformity with the essential requirements for products manufactured according to harmonised standards;
- compliance should be determined in one Member State only and result in the right of the product to bear the CE marking of conformity and market release in all Member States.
When the EC and the EFTA Secretariat request the European Standards Organisations to develop standards in support of their policies they give mandates, which provide support and enforce a 'standstill' arrangement.
Mandates are also given in the context of European industrial policy programmes (in the IT field for example) or in the area of public procurement, particularly in the so-called 'excluded sectors' (water, energy, transport, information technology).
The policy of CEN on co-operation in European and international standardisation is to
ensure that priority is given wherever appropriate to cooperation with ISO, provided that it is timely in delivery, and that international standards meet European legislative and market requirements and that non-European global players also implement these standards.
ensure a European platform for achieving a coherent position when appropriate at international level e.g. WTO, OECD, TABD.
while respecting the individual responsibilities of each ISO member and the ISO constitution, ensure proper coordination of national contributions on subjects of vital European interest.
further develop the Vienna Agreement with ISO or other equivalent agreements as appropriate.
achieve coherency in European standardization issues with CENELEC and ETSI, and with EC/EFTA legislative requirements.
develop cooperation with other regional standards bodies and with developing countries, also outside Europe, in line with European policies.