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How are standards developed?

Like with any determined process, there are a number of clearly defined phases in the standardisation process:

Hover over the 7 steps in the model below for more info.

1. The initiative to standardise

2. Evaluating the initiative to standardise

3. Drafting a first standardisation proposal

4. Evaluating the standardisation proposal

5.  Approving the standardisation proposal

6. Publishing the standard

7. Applying and following up on the existing standard

Below is a short, general and simplified account of each of these steps. For convenience, we draw the general trajectory, i.e. a standard generated by a technical committee for application within Belgium. For procedural details on the national, European or international standardisation process, consult BEC's Rules & Regulations.

1. The initiative to standardise

When the need for a reference document, a standard, arises for a certain subject within the electrotechnical domain, the request can in principle be launched by anyone:

  • a company or organisation;
  • an (inter)national government body;
  • a sectoral organisation;
  • an individual citizen.

The BEC itself can also launch a request for standardisation, when it feels there is a need in the market. 


2. Evaluating the initiative to standardise

First off, the BEC will go over a number of basic criteria:

  • Is the subject technically mature in terms of standardisation?
  • Is there sufficient national, European, international basis for a standard? Are enough parties interested in standardising this subject?
  • What type of standard fits this subject best? (check about standards)
  • Would it be best to standardise this subject nationally, or is it compelling to launch a European or even global initiative?

With these arguments, the request for standardisation is put before the Belgian technical committee in charge of that particular subject. The initiative to standardise can also originate in foreign technical committees and be brought before a.o. the Belgian technical committee for feedback. 

If a new technical committee needs to be formed, the BEC will invite (by European and international agreement) all stakeholders to participate in it. Stakeholders usually include manufacturers, buyers, users, scientists, government bodies and consumer organisations. 

Why participate in a technical committee?

  • You defend your interests and those of your company/organisation
  • You increase your know-how and stay up to date with developments in your area of expertise
  • You build an effective professional standardisation network.

Interested? Check standards development/technical committees.


3. Drafting a first standardisation proposal

The technical committee members discuss the (Belgian, European or international) initiative in order to draft a proposal. This discussion involves electronic correspondence and a series of working meetings, where every participant adds his expertise and ideas and defends his interests.

The aim is to establish a consensus within the technical committee about the standardisation proposal. The BEC facilitates this consensus decision-making process until a proposal is drafted that accomodates all the positions represented in the committee. 

The technical committee will often call on a working group to prepare the standardisation proposal for discussion and evaluation. This working group may consist of national, European and/or international experts.


4. Evaluating the standardisation proposal

The proposal is discussed and evaluated within the technical committee. The title of a Belgian standardisation proposal is published for feedback in the Belgian Official Journal (= public feedback round).

All feedback on the proposal is collected by the BEC and processed in the relevant technical committee. The standardisation proposal is adapted by general consensus. 


5. Approving the standardisation proposal

The adapted proposal is finally approved within the technical committee. 


6. Publishing the standard

Upon final approval, NBN (bureau for standardisation) publishes the title of the final approved standard text in the Belgian Official Journal. 

A standard is born! This publication is promoted a.o. through mailings and on the BEC website.

Users can now purchase the standard from the BEC website or the BEC library (check webstore). If there is sufficient market demand, the BEC will also organise seminars and/or courses to further explain the standard and its application.


7. Applying and following up on the existing standard

A standard is normally re-evaluated after five years, at which time it can be

  • confirmed without alteration
  • altered
  • revoked

In case of alteration, the entire procedure as outlined above applies. 

And that's how standards are developed!

It is clear you can directly influence this process by actively participating in a technical committee or working group. Interested? Click technical committees on the right. 

And how is standardisation relevant for you as a large company, an SME, a government body, a consumer? Check benefits of standardisation on the right.