International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

How is a standard made


The development of a European Standard (EN) follows different steps:

Proposal for new work item and acceptance

Business, users and consumers, lawmakers, non-governmental organisations, etc., can propose a new standard. Specific needs, feasibility and resources are assessed. Once the proposal is accepted, national work is frozen in 31 countries (standstill).

There are several ways to start harmonizing a standard:

  • An initial document comes from the International Electrotechnical Commission (80% of cases);
  • A document of European origin arises in one of CENELEC's own technical bodies. A first draft of a European document comes from one of CENELEC's Cooperating Partners;
  • Under the Vilamoura Procedure, the National Committees have agreed to notify CENELEC when they are planning any new work. If sufficient interest in the work exists at European level, CENELEC can take this work on board;
  • The European Commission or EFTA can submit requests for standardization work, mainly under the form of a mandate.

An adopted standardization project is allocated to a CENELEC Technical Body (experts) for the drafting of the standard at European or international level.

When a suitable draft is available, it is submitted to the NCs for CENELEC public enquiry, a procedure, which lasts 5 months. During this national consultation period, National Committees will liaise with their stakeholders (industry, federations, consumer associations, certification bodies, etc.) to constitute a national viewpoint on the draft. These national viewpoints or comments are forwarded to the technical body working on the draft for further consideration and possible incorporation in the draft. The resulting improved draft can then be submitted to a voting procedure.

The vote usually takes 2 months. At this stage the members have weighted votes corresponding to the size of the country they represent. For instance, the larger countries like France, Germany, Italy and the UK have 29 votes each while the smallest ones have three weighted votes.

Approval - Adoption by weighted vote:
There are two requirements for a standard to be approved.
The vote must yield:
- a majority of NCs in favour of the document
- at least 71% of the weighted votes cast are positive

Ratification and publication of the European Standard (EN)
After ratification by CENELEC, each NC adopts the European Standard as an identical national standard and withdraws any national standard, which conflicts with the new European Standard. Hence, one European Standard becomes the national standard in the 31 member countries of CENELEC.

Review the standard
A European Standard (EN) needs to be reviewed at least every 5 years to ensure that it is still current. The standard will then be confirmed, either withdrawn or amended and/or revised.

European Standards are made available in 3 official languages: English, French and German. National Committees can translate standards in their own language.

The shortest unambiguous reference to a European Standard is to use its number. The number of a European Standard consists of the capital letters EN followed by a space and a number in arabic numerals, without any space.

EN 50122-1:2011 (the part number is indicated by a hyphen, the year of availability of the EN is separated from the number by a colon)

The first two numerals indicate the origin of the standard:
- 40000 to 44999 cover domains of common CEN/CENELEC activities in the IT field
- 45000 to 49999 cover domains of common CEN/CENELEC activities outside the IT field
- 50000 to 59999 cover CENELEC activities i.e. standardization work undertaken purely at European level.
- 60000 to 69999 refer to the CENELEC implementation of IEC documents with or without changes.