ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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New Standards Guidelines for Europe

(Reprinted from www.eubusiness.com)

New York, Apr 02, 2003

The European Commission (EC), European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and three official European Standards Organisations (ESOs) on 28 March adopted new co-operation guidelines designed to bring European standardisation policy up to date.

The guidelines replace the previous version established in November 1984, which for the first time laid down a common political understanding of the conditions under which the EC and the then two ESOs - the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) - would cooperate. Equivalent guidelines were signed between these ESOs and EFTA in 1985.

Since then, many changes have taken place in Europe and beyond, economically, technologically, at a regulatory level and in standardisation itself. For example, the creation of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in 1988 contributed significantly to the restructuring of a European standardisation process already underway (ETSI subsequently received official recognition as an ESO alongside CEN and CENELEC in the EC Directive 98/34/EEC).

Over the last ten years the number of European Standards available has risen from 2,000 to more than 14,000 - and the number continues to grow by more than 1,000 annually.

There is now a huge demand from industry in all sectors for standards that help ensure products and services are safe, fit for their purpose and compatible. European standards provide a powerful means of enhancing the competitiveness of companies in Europe and creating the single European market. This success also ensures Europe a very powerful position in worldwide standardisation.

Standards now relate more and more to issues such as safety in the workplace, and protection of consumers and the environment. The new guidelines also recognise the EC/EFTA "New Approach", under which standards provide technical solutions for presumption of conformity with legal requirements; the guidelines thus include a mutual commitment to use standardisation to support legislation.

The signatories welcomed the new guidelines as a further strengthening of the cooperation between the political and technical communities in Europe. They declared their conviction that the new agreement constitutes a solid basis for future collaboration and for a reinforcement of the role of European standardisation in support of European policy.

Commissioner Liikanen emphasised the great importance given by the signatories in the guidelines to the participation of non-governmental economic and social interest groups in the standards-setting process.

The new Guidelines will appear shortly in the Official Journal of the European Communities and be available in all the official Community languages.

Background

CEN is based in Brussels, Belgium, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) is responsible for standardisation in areas other than the electrotechnical and telecommunications fields. Detailed information is available at www.cenorm.be/

CENELEC is based in Brussels, Belgium, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) is officially responsible for standardisation in the electrotechnical field. Detailed information is available at www.cenelec.org/

ETSI is based in Sophia Antipolis, France, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is officially responsible for standardisation in telecommunications, broadcasting and certain aspects of information technology within Europe. As such, it also plays a major role in global standardisation. For more information: www.etsi.org/

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