The European Committee for Standardization (CEN, French: Comité Européen de Normalisation) is a public standards organization whose mission is to foster the economy of the European Union (EU) in global trading, the welfare of European citizens and the environment by providing an efficient infrastructure to interested parties for the development, maintenance and distribution of coherent sets of standards and specifications.
The CEN was founded in 1961. Its thirty four national members work together to develop European Standards (ENs) in various sectors to build a European internal market for goods and services and to position Europe in the global economy. CEN is officially recognised as a European standards body by the European Union; the other official European standards bodies are the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
More than 60,000 technical experts as well as business federations, consumer and other societal interest organisations are involved in the CEN network that reaches over 460 million people. CEN is the officially recognized standardisation representative for sectors other than electrotechnical (CENELEC) and telecommunications (ETSI). On 12 February 1999 the European Parliament noted in a resolution that CEN, CENELEC and ETSI co-operate smoothly and that a merger of the three standardisaton bodies would not have clear advantages.
The standardisation bodies of the thirty national members represent the twenty seven member states of the European Union, three countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and countries which are likely to join the EU or EFTA in the future. CEN is contributing to the objectives of the European Union and European Economic Area with technical standards (EN standards) which promote free trade, the safety of workers and consumers, interoperability of networks, environmental protection, exploitation of research and development programmes, and public procurement. An example of mandatory standards are those for materials and products used in construction and listed under the Construction Products Directive. The CE mark is a declaration by the manufacturer that a product complies with the respective EU directive and hence the harmonized standard(s) referenced by the directive(s).
CEN (together with CENELEC) owns the Keymark, a voluntary quality mark for products and services. A product bearing the Keymark demonstrates conformity to European Standards.
The current CEN Members are:
The Vienna Agreement was signed by CEN and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1991 but came in force in the mid-2000s. Its primary aim is to avoid duplication of (potentially conflicting) standards between CEN and ISO. In the last decade CEN has adopted a number of ISO standards which replaced the corresponding CEN standards.