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

Cooperation with IEC

CENELEC enjoys close cooperation with its international counterpart, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Created in 1906, the IEC is the world's leading organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies collectively known as "electrotechnology". In principle, most IEC standards are implemented as European and national standards in Europe.

In order to facilitate a consensus-finding process between European and international standards development activities in the electrical sector, CENELEC and IEC formalised the framework of their cooperation through the signature of an 'agreement on common planning of new work and parallel voting', known as the Dresden Agreement.

The Dresden Agreement

The Dresden Agreement, which was signed in 1996, was drawn up against the background of avoiding duplication of effort and reducing time when preparing standards. As a result, new electrical standards projects are now jointly planned between CENELEC and IEC, and if possible most are carried out at international level. This means that CENELEC will first offer a New Work Item (NWI) to its international counterpart.  If accepted, CENELEC will cease working on the NWI.  If IEC refuses, CENELEC will work on the standards development and its content, keeping IEC closely informed and giving IEC the opportunity to comment at the public enquiry stage.

The Dresden Agreement also determines that CENELEC and IEC vote in parallel during the standardization process. If the outcome of the parallel voting is positive, CENELEC will ratify the European standard and the IEC will publish the international standard.

This close cooperation has resulted in some 75% of all European standards adopted by CENELEC being identical or based on IEC standards.  This high proportion of aligned standards provides an indicator to the excellent consensus-based way of working CENELEC and IEC have developed and are continually building on.  It provides a further indicator of how the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade is facilitated and provides global access.