CEN and CENELEC are business catalysts in Europe, removing trade barriers for European industry and consumers. Their mission is to foster the European economy in global trading, the welfare of European citizens and the environment. Through their services they provide platforms for the development of European Standards and other technical specs. All of the products and services we buy and use in our everyday lives have to meet certain standards of safety and quality. In Europe, these standards are developed and agreed by the three officially recognised European Standards Organisations: the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

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All of the products and services we buy and use in our everyday lives have to meet certain standards of safety and quality. In Europe, these standards are developed and agreed by the three officially recognized European Standardization Organisations: the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The close collaboration between CEN and CENELEC was consolidated at the start of 2010 by the creation of a common CEN-CENELEC Management Centre (CCMC) in Brussels.

By setting common standards that are applied across the whole of the European single market, CEN and CENELEC ensure the protection of consumers, facilitate cross-border trade, ensure the interoperability of products, encourage innovation and technological development, include environmental protection and enable businesses to grow. Products and services that meet these European Standards (ENs) can be offered and sold in all of the participating countries.
CEN and CENELEC bring together the national standards agencies of 33 countries. Our network involves business federations, commercial and consumer organisations, environmental groups and other societal stakeholders. More than 60,000 technical experts from industry, research, academia and other backgrounds are directly involved in our work.

Together, CEN and CENELEC provide a platform for the development of European Standards and other technical specifications across a wide range of sectors. We work closely with the European Commission to ensure that standards correspond with any relevant EU legislation.

CEN and CENELEC also cooperate with respectively the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to reach agreements on common standards that can be applied throughout the whole world, thereby facilitating international trade.

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) are two distinct private international non-profit organizations based in Brussels.

Our mission is to fulfil the needs of our stakeholders: amongst others business, industry and commerce, service providers, public authorities and regulators, academia and research centres, European trade associations and interest groups representing environmentalists, consumers, trade unions as well as small and medium enterprises, and other public and private institutions.

We are leading providers of voluntary European Standards and related products and services for the benefit of businesses, consumers and other standard users in Europe.

European standards are driven by business and made through a transparent, balanced and consensus-based process in which relevant stakeholders are involved.

We aim to produce high-quality standards for products and services that incorporate quality, safety, environmental, interoperability and accessibility requirements. We adapt proactively to new developments and support European competitiveness, the protection of the environment and sustainable growth for the well-being of citizens and the strengthening of the single market (European Economic Area).

We promote the unique European Standardization System and its results, leading the implementation of best practice in standardization around the world.

We actively support international standardization, and cooperate closely with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC),  in order to pursue the goal of ‘one standard, one test, accepted everywhere’.

CEN and CENELEC Ambitions 2020

In line with the Communication from the European Commission 'EUROPE 2020 - A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth' (COM(2010) 2020), the CEN and CENELEC communities have outlined where they want to be in 2020 in their so-called 'Ambitions 2020'.

The paper reflects CEN and CENELEC’s commitment to actively contribute to the strengthening of Europe’s growth and competitiveness through a solid and sustainable standardization system that creates added value for the European economy. The European standardization system acts as an important component in European leadership, whilst at the same time advancing consumer safety and environmental protection. This joint initiative reflects the need for convergence and for strengthened cross-sector cooperation through a shared vision, while providing an overall framework for our future business development.

CEN and CENELEC have set six objectives to be reached by 2020, namely global influence, regional relevance, wider recognition, network of excellence, innovation and growth and a sustainable standardization system.

More than 60.000 technical experts from industry, associations, public administrations, academia and societal organizations are involved in the CEN and CENELEC network.

The stakeholders of the CEN and CENELEC system are: business, industry and commerce; service providers; consumer, environmental and societal organisations; public authorities and regulators; and other public and private institutions.

Most of these stakeholders are represented in the CEN and CENELEC communities through:

  • 33 national members: national standardization bodies (CEN)/electrotechnical standardization committees (CENELEC) who constitute the final decision-makers within CEN and CENELEC;
  • European organizations, associations and federations representing stakeholders such as business, industry, consumers, environmental and societal organizations, etc.;
  • governmental bodies and other authorities, including the European Commission (EC) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA);
  • the affiliates who are the national standards bodies/committees in countries that are cooperating with the European Union (either as potential candidates or in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy);  special partnership status of standards bodies in other countries (and regions) outside Europe;
  • relations and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with regions and countries outside the European Union and EFTA;
  • international cooperation with ISO (CEN) and IEC (CENELEC).

The CEN-CENELEC statistical pack presents the quarterly reporting on the outcomes of CEN and CENELEC activities.
The package covers:

(1) standards publications
(2) work programme
(3) development timeframe
(4) international relations
(5) relations to EU legislation.

The CEN-CENELEC Management Centre (CCMC) offers a range of services. These support the standards-making process and facilitate a better awareness and understanding of the standardization system among stakeholders and other audiences.

The Environmental Helpdesk provides information and support to CEN and CENELEC Technical Committees so they can take environmental aspects into account when developing and defining European Standards.

The CCMC provides information and training sessions in order to educate various stakeholders and interested parties about standardization.

The CEN-CENELEC Infodesk deals with enquiries about European Standards and related standardization activities.

The CCMC provides high-quality meeting facilities which are being used by CEN and CENELEC, for example to host Technical Committee meetings. Meeting rooms can also be rented by other organizations that wish to hold meetings in Brussels.

Virtual meetings can also be organized using web-conferencing services provided by the CCMC.

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The objective of European standardization is to agree on common specifications and/or procedures that respond to the needs of business and meet consumer expectations.

Standards are part of the knowledge economy that underpins European industry and society. They facilitate innovation and promote the adoption of new technologies.

European Standardization is a key instrument for the consolidation of the Single Market and for strengthening the competitiveness of European companies, thereby creating the conditions for economic growth.

European Standards are a valuable tool for facilitating cross-border trade – both within Europe’s single market and also with the rest of the world. They reduce unnecessary costs for both suppliers and purchasers of products and services – in the public and private sectors.

Standards can be used to improve safety and performance, raise levels of energy efficiency, and protect consumers, workers and the environment. They complement European and national policies in these areas, and make it easier for companies and other actors to respect relevant legislation.

CEN and CENELEC are international non-profit associations. They are officially recognized as European Standardization Organizations (alongside ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute)

CEN, CENELEC and their national members and committees work jointly to develop and define standards that are considered necessary by market actors and/or to support the implementation of European legislation.

A majority of European Standards are initiated by business and developed in partnership with other stakeholders. Around 30% are mandated by the European Commission in the framework of EU legislation.

The European Standardization System is unique in the world. After the publication of a European Standard, each national standards body or committee is obliged  to withdraw any national standard which conflicts with the new European Standard. Hence, one European Standard becomes the national standard in all the 33 member countries of CEN and/or CENELEC.

At a time when Europe needs more innovation in order to remain competitive on the global stage, standardization can be a bridge between research, innovation and the market, which will in turn bring significant economic benefits. According to the World Bank, one of the most important economic benefits of standards is increased productivity and innovative efficiency.

However, that's not all.

Standards support innovation by providing an important basis for developing solutions and are essential for market update.

CEN and CENELEC seek to bridge the worlds of standardization and research/innovation by the so-called “Integrated Approach”. The Integrated Approach provides a mechanism to ensure standardization is integrated in research and innovation projects. It aims at:

  • raising awareness of the benefits of standardization in the research and innovation process;
  • transferring research results and outcomes of innovation activities into standardization;
  • fully exploiting the functions of standards for research and innovation activities in order to increase the competitiveness of the EU.

Browse our webpages to find out more about the important role that standards play, such as:

  • Ensuring broad applicability of the project results
  • Increasing the efficiency of research and development work
  • Ensuring that developed solutions are interoperable with existing technologies or protocols