The development of European standards and the withdrawal of conflicting national standards has played a leading role in the achievement of a European Single Market for goods. Standardisation is a market-based tool in which industry produces standards in order to agree on technical specifications for health, safety and the environment and to achieve interoperability.
Through Regulation EU No 1025/2012, the three European Standardisation Organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) are recognised as organisations that may receive a request to produce European harmonised standards in support of sectoral harmonised product legislation or for specific policy purposes. The Regulation also opens up for standardisation request in the area of services and facilitates the participation of specific stakeholder representation in the development in European standards (Annex III Organisations).
The four EFTA countries have a long-standing policy of contributing financially to European Standardisation through the EFTA Council/Secretariat. This financial contribution is normally done in parallel with the European Commission.
There are three means by which the EFTA countries are linked to European Standardisation:
Annex II, Chapter XIX of the EEA Agreement provides the legal basis for standardisation within the EEA. Regulation 1025/2012 is of particular importance.
New standardisation mandates are approved by the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Working Group, in which Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway participate (EEA). All financial and policy issues are handled by the EFTA Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Committee). In this Committee that reports to the EFTA Council, all four EFTA countries participate. Contractual and financial issues are decided by the EFTA Council. The annual EFTA budget for financial support to European standardisation (in the form of annual operating grants to CEN,CENELEC and ETSI, and other organisations such as ANEC and ECOS, in the form of direct contributions to the execution of mandates and other standardisation working programmes and to specific projects) amounts to approximately € 1 million.
The EFTA countries, together with the European Commission and the three European Standardisation Organisations, are a partner in two international projects with Seconded European Standardisation Experts, one in China (SESEC) and one in India (SESEI). EFTA is represented by the EFTA Secretariat as a member of the Steering Committee of these projects.
EFTA has also been a partner in building up a database between European standardisation and Chinese standardisation called the China-Europe Standards Information Platform (CESIP). On this platform the Chinese and European partners share information on the applicable standards in specific product sectors. The objective is to facilitate industry's, and especially SME’s, access to the respective markets and to comply with the applicable technical regulation.
European Standardisation plays a key role in facilitating the free movement of goods and services in Europe. Its main objectives are:
For more information, see also:
DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH) - Standardisation policy
European Standards Organisations:
EU/EFTA cofounded stakeholders in European standardisation:
International projects where EFTA is a partner: