Counsellors are European institutions who play a political role in European standardization.
Public authorities are active players in the field of standardization. They act as drivers for standardization by integrating standards in legislation. In this way, many standards are developed to support European legislation. 'Reference to standards' within a voluntary legislative text is viewed as a more effective means of ensuring that products meet the essential health and safety requirements of legislation than the writing of detailed laws. This allows both processes to support each other, without causing a slowdown.
CEN partnership with the European Commission and EFTA
The European Standards Organisations (ESOs) CEN, CENELEC and ETSI are involved in a successful partnership with the European Commission (EC) and the the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The ESOs support European legislation in helping the implementation of the European Commission Directives following the application of the New Approach. The EC and EFTA participate in consulative role in the CEN General Assembly. They also attend the open session of the Administrative Board when policy issues are being discussed.
The partnership between the ESOs and the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association provides on of the key elements necessary to complete the single market. It was reinforced with the signature in 2003 of the General Guidelines for the cooperation between CEN, CENELEC and ETSI and the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association. These guidelines give a political framework of cooperation like the ESOs committed to support policies through standardization activities, while the EC and EFTA committed to make use of standards in European policy. Besides, the application of standardization principles, such as transparency, impartiality, accountability is the rule.
The New Appraoch was launched in 1985 to define 'essential requirements' for health, safety and environmental issue in EU directives. To support its policies and legislation, the EC requests the ESOs to develop and adopt European Standards. The requestes are sent to the ESOs by means of 'standardization mandates'. The ESOs have no legal obligation to accept a European mandate, and when they do they remain autonomous on the technical content of standards covered by a mandate. Voluntary European standards that are being developed to respond to the regulatory contect of the Europan Commission are called 'harmonized standards'. About 30% of the standards portfolio are in support of legislation.The others are developed upon request from the market.
Framework Partnership Agreement
In 2009 CEN signed a Framework Partnership Agreement with the EC and EFTA aimed at establishing legal, administrative and financial terms to be applied to the CEN activities that are co-financed by the EC and EFTA. Subject of financing can be the elaboration of standards or other standardization deliverables (Techncical Specifications, and others) that respond to a European Mandate; the quality of standards (New Approach consultant contracts), the translation of defined standards; or visibility projects of European standardization. Therefore operating and visibility grant agreements are signed yearly.
The financing of the European Standardization System whereby industry bears 95% of the costs of the system and the remaining 5% is covered by public funding (of which 2% from EC and EFTA) highlights the successful public-private partnership.