Navigating the realm of product compliance requires a keen understanding of the pivotal role played by standards. For businesses eyeing the European market, harmonized standards take centre stage in ensuring safety and quality. This blog post will demystify the process of how a standard earns its harmonized status, explain how to discover these standards, and shed light on the parallel world of designated standards in the UK, which mirror harmonized standards in the EU.
The Path to Harmonized Standards
1. Standard Creation. It all begins with the birth of a standard – a comprehensive set of technical specifications defining safety and performance requirements for specific products or services.
2. Needs Identification. EU authorities identify areas where harmonized standards can enhance safety, simplify trade, and serve other crucial purposes.
3. Mandate to Standardization Bodies. The European Commission issues mandates to European standardization bodies, pinpointing areas where harmonized standards are essential.
4. Expert Committees. Technical committees, comprising experts from industry, consumer associations, and public authorities, draft these standards with meticulous care.
5. Public Consultation. The drafted standards undergo a phase of public consultation. This allows stakeholders to offer valuable feedback and recommendations.
6. Formal Approval. Once the standards are meticulously refined, they endure a rigorous formal approval process, frequently conducted by the European Standardization Organizations (CEN, CENELEC, or ETSI).
7. Publication. The culmination of this process sees approved harmonized standards published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
Discovering Harmonized Standards
Locating harmonized standards is crucial for manufacturers. There are several avenues to explore:
1. Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). This serves as the primary source for accessing published harmonized standards.
2. European Commission’s Website. The European Commission maintains a comprehensive list of harmonized standards on their website. Harmonised Standards (europa.eu)
3. National Standards Bodies. EU member states’ national standards bodies can also provide access to harmonized standards.
4. Industry Associations and Expert Guidance. Seek insights from industry associations and expert consultations to pinpoint the right standards for your specific products.
Designated Standards in the UK
In the United Kingdom, the terminology shifts to “designated standards” instead of “harmonized standards.” However, the core concept remains consistent. Designated standards in the UK closely mirror harmonized standards in the EU. They ensure that products introduced to the UK market comply with safety and quality requirements akin to the EU. Designated standards can be found on the Gov website here. Designated standards – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Understanding the journey of how a standard achieves harmonized status and how to locate and access these standards is a pivotal aspect of mastering the intricate world of product compliance.