Vienna & Frankfurt Agreements
In order to avoid duplication between standardization at international and European levels, for the benefit of contributors and users of standards as well as to increase the efficiency of standardization at European and international level, CEN and CENELEC have signed agreements with their respective international counterparts the International Standardization Organisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), setting out the rules governing co-operation.
The Vienna Agreement signed between CEN and ISO in 1991 recognizes the primacy of international standards and aims at standards to be recognized simultaneously at international and European level by means of improved exchange of information and mutual representation at meetings. Either CEN or ISO shall take the lead in drafting a new standard and documents related to them shall be presented for simultaneous approval by both. This way, ISO members can influence content of CEN standard and vice versa. Approximately 30% of CEN standards are developed under the Vienna agreement.
Nevertheless the Vienna Agreement allows CEN or ISO to conduct standardization activities on the same subject, if deemed necessary. The “Joint ISO-CEN Coordinating Group of the Technical Boards” has an important strategic function of monitoring application of the Vienna Agreement and of advising the higher CEN Technical Board and ISO Technical Management Board on all issues relating to the Vienna Agreement, i.e. including on the need for revisions. A revised version (Version 3.3) of the Vienna Agreement was released in September 2001, in which the agreement itself was reduced to the essential principles of co-operation between ISO and CEN. Altogether, the current version gives priority to international standardization, and lends greater importance to ISO leadership than did the previous versions. EN ISO standards, for example, may now be revised only under ISO leadership, regardless of their origin.
In October 2016, during the annual IEC General Meeting in Frankfurt, the IEC, which publishes the large majority of International Standards for electrical and electronic devices and systems, and CENELEC, its counterpart at the European level, have signed The Frankfurt agreement that will increase the harmonization between International and European standards.
Around 80% of all European electrotechnical standards are identical to or based on IEC International Standards. This level was achieved through the Dresden Agreement which was signed in 1996 between both organizations. However, a lot has changed since then – global trade in electrical and electronic devices has accelerated and differences between products have become a lot smaller. The new Frankfurt Agreement takes these changes into account, and aims to bring the ratio of harmonization between International and European standards up to an even higher level.
Under the Frankfurt Agreement, the primacy of electrotechnical standardization at the international level in the IEC will be reinforced. This avoids duplication of efforts and helps make best use of European and IEC experts.
Also new is the fact that CENELEC will start including the IEC acronym in the designation of all European standards that are identical to IEC International Standards to increase transparency and facilitate content traceability.