After many years of discussion, CEN and CENELEC members have agreed to grant a ‘Right of Opinion’ to the three organisations representing the consumers, the environment and the trade unions in European standardisation: ANEC, ECOS and ETUC.
The right of opinion is a new, much-needed tool in the standardisation system for societal stakeholders. From 1 January 2017, ANEC, ECOS and ETUC can express a ‘favourable’ or ‘not favourable’ opinion during the standardisation development process. Although the opinion does not equal a vote of a National Committee, it will trigger a reaction from the Technical Committee that developed the standard, followed by a review by CEN or CENELEC’s Technical Board. A ‘not favourable’ opinion may trigger an early revision of the standard to address shortcomings highlighted by civil society. A ‘favourable’ opinion would be an acknowledgement of the work accomplished to date.
This marks a significant step for societal stakeholders in standardisation. For the first time, a specific right has been awarded to consumers, trade unions and environmental interests to address the lack of societal representation in European standardisation. We hope that this step towards greater inclusiveness will inspire the third European Standardisation Organisation, ETSI, in the ICT and telecommunications sector, to do the same as part of its new 3SI programme. This right will need to be combined with other measures, such as the creation of a separate category of membership within the standards bodies, to lead to a truly inclusive standardisation process.