Developing European Standards
How is a European Standard developed?
It is the goal of European standards committees to base European Standards on International Standards without changing them. If International Standards do not exist, the objective is to work on a standard at only one level (European or international) as foreseen in the Vienna Agreement or Dresden Agreement and to carry out parallel voting so that the standard is approved simultaneously as an International and a European Standard.
European standardization work begins with a proposal for a standard, which might come from a member of the European standards organizations CEN/CENELEC/ETSI (such as DIN), the European Commission, or another European or international organization.
If the proposal is accepted, a sufficient number of national standards bodies agree to participate and adequate financial resources are available, CEN/CENELEC/ETSI allocates the work to an existing working group of the responsible technical committee, or sets up a new working group with appropriate experts.
One of the national standards bodies assumes responsibility for running the secretariat. At present, DIN holds approximately 28 % of CEN secretariats and 30 % of CENELEC secretariats.
In the absence of an International Standard that can be adopted unchanged as a European Standard, the responsible working group prepares a first draft (taking into account any International Standards that have already been published on the subject). This first draft might be followed by others until a consensus is reached on making the proposal available for public discussion.
CEN/CENELEC/ETSI begins the public enquiry by releasing English, French and German versions of a European draft Standard-(prEN). The national standards bodies have five months in which to send in their national view. In Germany a German-language draft DIN EN Standard is published on which anyone may comment within a two-month period (Draft Standards can be viewed on DIN's German-language Draft Standards Portal). The national mirror committee discusses all comments received and submits the consolidated national standpoint.
On the basis of the comments received, the responsible working group formulates a final draft in English, French and German. In a formal vote over a two month period, the members then decide whether to accept this final draft as a European Standard. In this case the draft must either be approved or, if not, then reasons for a negative vote must be given. Approval of the final draft is dependent on its receiving at least 71 % of the weighted votes of CEN members.
If the content of the final draft Standard differs substantially from the first draft, in exceptional cases a second draft Standard is published and re-submitted to public enquiry.
Ratification of a European Standard takes place automatically one month following positive voting. After ratification a European Standard must be implemented by the national standards bodies as a national standard, and any conflicting national standards must be withdrawn. Every approved European Standard is published in Germany as a DIN EN Standard with a National Foreword.
Since European Standards are expected to be developed within a time frame of thirty-six months, each stage is to be completed within a set time, though it is possible to apply for an extension to this period. If work is not completed by the end of the set deadlines, the work item will be deleted.
There are other European standardization deliverables that differ from European Standards in the way they are developed, the time frame for their development, and the degree to which they are binding:
- European Technical Specification (CEN/TS)
- European Technical Report (CEN/TR)
- CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA)