European standardization brings important benefits not just to those who use standards and to the European economy, but also to society as a whole.
When they are correctly applied, CEN standards help to protect the health and safety of workers doing many different kinds of jobs. They also protect the health and safety of the consumers and end-users of products and services, including vulnerable users such as children and older persons.
Standards are also a useful tool for ensuring that products and components are mutually compatible and that they will function properly when connected together – even if they were made by different companies in different countries. This benefit of standardization is known as 'interoperability', and it is vital for numerous industries – from chemicals and construction to railways and renewable energy.
Many CEN standards incorporate accessibility requirements, for example by following the principles of universal design (‘Design for All’) and taking into account the particular needs and limitations of older persons and people with various kinds of disabilities. This means that any products, systems, services, environments, buildings or facilities complying with these standards may be accessed and used by as many people as possible.
Standards are a valuable tool for helping businesses and other organizations to operate in a more sustainable way, taking their social, economic and environmental impacts into account with a long-term perspective. Many CEN standards contribute to reducing waste and improving efficiency. For example, so-called ‘Ecodesign’ Standards developed by CEN (often together with CENELEC) provide valuable tools for reducing energy consumption.
The protection of the environment is one of the main horizontal issues addressed by CEN during the standards development process. The objectives and priorities of European environmental policies are taken into account when European Standards are being drafted or revised. Where necessary, new standards are developed in order to support the implementation of EU policies and legislation related to the environment.