European Standards (EN standards)

A basis of the Internal Market

Common standards applying throughout Europe have been a key theme in standardization for many years. They eliminate barriers to trade and complement European legislation. Thus, they form a basis of the Internal Market.

Today, around 90 percent of all ÖNORM standards originate at the European level (ÖNORM EN) and 30 percent of them are also International Standards (EN ISO).

But how are European Standards developed?

Development of a European Standard

The following organizations develop European Standards (ENs):

  • European Committee for Standardization (CEN),

  • European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC),

  • European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Do you want to have an influence on the contents of European Standards? If so, participate in the competent national body (mirror committee).

This body delegates experts to European technical committees and working groups, decides on national comments on Draft European Standards and monitors the development of standards.

One of the objectives of European standardization is to take over International Standards (ISO) with as little changes as possible at the European level.

What happens if there are no relevant International Standards? CEN and ISO agreed that, in those cases, a standard is to be developed at either the international or European level. This is based on the principles laid down in the "Vienna Agreement" in order to avoid “duplication of efforts”.

Ultimately, a parallel voting procedure takes place and any document adopted is simultaneously recognized as an International as well as European Standard (EN ISO).

European Standards have to be taken over without any changes at the national level – in Austria as ÖNORM EN standards.

Development process

Step 1:

A European Standard is initiated by:

  • national standardizing organizations, such as Austrian Standards International,

  • European industry, technical, professional or scientific federations,

  • an international organization,

  • the European Commission, and/or,

  • the EFTA Secretariat (to support EU directives).


Step 2:

The project proposed has to be approved. A sufficient number of national standardization organizations have to be willing to co-operate. The financial resources for managing the secretariat need to be available.

If those requirements are met, CEN delegates the relevant work to the experts of a working group under a technical committee (CEN/TC).

Experts can be nominated both by the CEN/TC and national standardization organizations.

From the time when it is put in charge, the working group has three years for developing the standard. It is headed by a convenor and supported by a national standardization organization. The working language is English.

When the working group has agreed on a Draft European Standard (prEN), a public inquiry is launched. For this purpose, the national standardization organizations arrange for the preparation of national comments within three months. How is this done? In Austria, Austrian Standards International publishes an “Entwurf ÖNORM EN” (draft ÖNORM EN) on which anybody can submit comments – directly to Austrian Standards International – within six weeks. Then these comments are discussed by the national mirror committee.

From comments to publication

The national comments agreed in this way are now submitted by the mirror committee.

If the future standard is intended to support EU directives, it is a mandated draft standard. In this case, recommendations are additionally requested from consultants at the European level. They check whether the essential requirements laid down in the EU directives 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.

At this stage, the contents cannot be modified anymore. 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.

It the vote is positive, the European Standard is automatically ratified in the English, French and German languages one month later.

After ratification, a European Standard has to be taken over as a national standard — in Austria as an ÖNORM EN – within six months. Conflicting national standards have to be withdrawn.

For mandated standards, CEN will ask the European Commission to publish the references in the Official Journal of the European Union.

CEN will verify periodically if a revision of an EN is necessary by surveying the relevant national bodies (mirror committees).

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