Standards : Reference documents
Standards in contracts
Standards are applied on a voluntary basis.
Manufacturers decide whether their products will be in conformity with a standard or not. Except in some particular cases where a standard becomes mandatory in pursuance of regulations, manufacturers are not legally obliged to comply with standards. A manufacturer must be able to certify the conformity of his products to standards when such conformity has been mentioned in commercial documents.
In conventional private commercial relationships, no offence is committed if a standard which is not mentioned in the technical specifications is not applied. Reference to a standard in the technical specifications is the customer's and the supplier's choice and responsibility. Once referred to in a contract, it is mandatory to fulfill the requirements of the standard.
Nevertheless this reference does not lead to a complete exemption of responsibility. Professionnals must have a careful behaviour, be in conformity with state of the art, that may request more than the sole reference to a standard. Moreover it is necessary to pay attention to the right refrence to a standard in contracts : avoid unnecessary standards, and give the aim of the reference for a good understanding.
Standards in public procurement
Reference to standards or to equivalent documents is mandatory in France in public calls for tenders. This reference is a precaution for public procurements to avoid discriminatory call for tenders. Nevertheless a manufacturer may propose other equivalent solutions.
Standards and regulations
Some standards become compulsory
Laws and regulations are issued by the authorities and are therefore compulsory in all their elements. It may happen that one or more standards become compulsory under some laws or regulations
Some standards provide a presumption of conformity to the regulations
The New Approach to technical harmonization and standardization is based on the following principles laid down by the Council resolution of 1985:
- Harmonization is limited to essential requirements;
- Only products fulfilling the essential requirements may be placed on the market and put into service ;
- Harmonized standards, the reference numbers of which have been published in the Official Journal and which have been transposed into national standards, are presumed to conform to the corresponding essential requirements ;
- Application of harmonized standards or other technical specifications remains voluntary, and manufacturers are free to choose any technical solution that provides compliance with the essential requirements ;
- Manufacturers may choose between different conformity assessment procedures provided for in the applicable directive.
Products complying with standards published in the Official Journal of the European Union under New Approach Directives are presumed to be in conformity with the requirements of the regulations. Conformity to the standard is not compulsory, but it is a preferential way of proving that products fulfill legal requirements.
These harmonised standards are European standards, which are adopted by European standards organisations, prepared in accordance with the General Guidelines agreed between the Commission and the European standards organisations, and follow a mandate issued by the Commission after consultation with the Member States. They are deemed to exist when the European standards organisations formally present to the Commission the European standards elaborated or identified in conformity with the mandate.
The harmonised standards give a presumption of conformity to the essential requirements if their reference has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
To obtain the list of references of the harmonized standards published in the Official Journal of the European Union, click here.
To obtain additional information about the New Approach, as well as the downloading of the Guide to the implementation of the New Approach directives, click here.
Several New Approach directives concern the mechanical products. The following sites contain updated information about these directives :
- Construction products
- Electromagnetic comptability
- Explosive atmospheres
- Pressure equipment / CLAP Forms / En13445
Other non New Approach directives :