Common standards applying throughout Europe have been a key theme in standardization for many years. They eliminate barriers to trade, complement European legislation and, as a result, form a basis of the Internal Market. Today, around 90 per cent of all ÖNORM standards originate at the European level (ÖNORM EN) and 30 per cent of them are also international standards (EN ISO). Read here about how European standards are developed.
European Standards (ENs) are prepared in the technical committees of the European Committee for Standardization CEN with the participation of delegates from the relevant national committees.
A European Standard has to be implemented without any changes at the national level - in Austria as an ÖNORM EN standard.
An efficient possibility to influence the contents of European Standards is to participate in the responsible national body (mirror committee).
This body delegates experts to the European standardizing bodies, decides on comments on Draft European Standards at the national level and monitors the different steps of the standardizing procedure.
The objective of European standardization is to implement European documents on the basis of International Standards (ISO) with as little changes as possible.
If there are no relevant International Standards, efforts are made to limit the preparation work to one of the two levels (international and European) within the framework of the Vienna Agreement between CEN and ISO.
In this case, a parallel voting procedure will take place aiming at simultaneous recognition as International and European Standard (EN ISO).
A European Standard is initiated by a national standardizing body, such as the Austrian Standards Institute, by a European economic, technical, professional or scientific association, an international organization or by the European Commission and/or the EFTA Secretariat (as a support for EU Directives).
If agreement is reached on the project proposed, a sufficient number of national standards organizations is ready to co-operate and the financial resources for the secretariat are availble, the responsible technical committee of CEN (CEN/TC) will put a working group (WG) in charge of the relevant activities. The CEN/TC and/or the national standards organizations can appoint experts to participate in this working group.
Headed by a convenor, the working group will prepare the standard, the working language being English. One of the CEN members (national standards organization) will be responsible for the secretariat of the CEN/TC. The activities of the working group and of its convenor will also be supported by a national standards organization.
The ultimate objective is to prepare an EN within three years. Therefore, time targets are fixed for each individual step. If the targets are not respected for certain steps, a prolongation can be requested. Otherwise, the entire standard project will be cancelled from the working programme.
When the working group has agreed on a Draft European Standard (prEN), the public enquiry is initiated. Within three month starting from this date, the national standards organizations have to submit national comments. In Austria, an "Entwurf (Draft) ÖNORM EN" is published in such cases.
Within six weeks, the public can submit comments (using the comment table) to the Austrian Standards Institute. It is recommendable to draw up the proposals also in English. The national mirror body will then discuss these comments.
Afterwards, the mirror body submits the generally agreed national comments. In case of mandated draft standards - i.e. the future standard is intended to support an EU Directive - recommendations of consultants will additionally be required at the European level in order to verify whether the essential requirements of the EU Directive and/or the mandate of the European Commission are fulfilled.
On the basis of the comments received, the CEN/TC concerned prepares the final draft. Within two months, the national standards organizations decide on the adoption of the EN in a weighted final vote.
After this procedure, the contents can not be modified any more. For the adoption of the document, at least 71 percent of the weighted votes have to be positive. National standards organizations which do not cast their vote on the final draft, are considered to abstain from voting.
The ratification of a European Standard takes place automatically one month after a positive vote in English, French and German languages.
After ratification, a European Standard has to be implemented within six months as a national standard - in Austria as an ÖNORM EN. Conflicting national standards have to be withdrawn.
For mandated standards, CEN will ask the European Commission to publish the source in the Official Journal of the European Union.
CEN will verify periodically if a revision of an EN is necessary. In general, this procedure is carried out by a survey among the national mirror bodies.