European Commission & EFTA
Public authorities are active players in the field of standardization, acting as drivers for standardization by integrating standards
in their legislation. In this way, many standards are developed to support European legislation. "Reference to standards" within a
voluntary legislative text is viewed as a more effective means of ensuring that products meet the essential health and safety
requirements of legislation than the writing of detailed laws. This allows both processes to support each other, without
causing a slowdown.
CENELEC partnership with the European Commission & EFTA
The European Standards Organisations (ESOs: CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) are involved in a successful partnership with the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association. The ESOs support European legislation in helping the implementation of the European Commission directives following the application of the New Approach.
This partnership between the official ESOs and the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association provides one of the key elements necessary to complete the European Single Market. It was reinforced with the signature in 2003 of the General Guidelines for the Cooperation between CEN, CENELEC and ETSI and the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association'. These guidelines give a political framework of cooperation, i.e. the ESOs committed to support policies through standardization activities, while the European Commission and EFTA committed to make use of standards in European policy. Besides, the application of standardization principles such as transparency, impartiality, accountability is the rule.
In 1985, the New Approach was launched to define "essential requirements" for health, safety and environmental issues in EU directives. To support its policies and legislation, the European Commission requests the ESOs to develop and adopt European Standards. The requests are sent to the ESOs by means of "standardization mandates". The ESOs have no legal obligation to accept a European mandate, and when they do they remain autonomous on the technical content of standards covered by a mandate. Voluntary European standards that are being developed to respond to the regulatory context of the European Commission are called "Harmonised Standards". The others are developed upon request from the market.
To have a comprehensive view of all the existing mandates to CENELEC, check the list of European Commission standardization mandates accepted by CENELEC.
Framework Partnership Agreement
In addition, CENELEC signed in 2009 a Framework Partnership Agreement with the European Commission and EFTA, with the aim of establishing the legal, administrative and financial terms to be applied to those CENELEC's activities co-financed by the European Commission and EFTA. Subject to financing can be the elaboration of standards or other standardization deliverables (Technical Specifications, etc.) that respond to a European Mandate; the quality of standards (New Approach consultant contracts), the translation of defined standards; or some visibility projects of European standardization. For this purpose, operating and visibility grant agreements are signed yearly.
The financial contribution
It is to be highlighted that this successful public-private partnership is reflected in the financing of the European Standardization System whereby industry bears up to 95% of the costs of the system, the remaining 5% being covered by public funding (of which 2% from EC and EFTA).