ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation. We represent the European consumer interest in the creation of technical standards, especially those developed to support the implementation of European laws and public policies.
ANEC also has an interest in the application of standards, including market surveillance and enforcement, accreditation and conformity assessment schemes. We also seek to influence the development or revision of European legislation related to products and services that is likely to affect the consumer, especially where reference is made to standards.
Why are standards important for consumers?
Standards provide the nuts and bolts of society.
Ever thought why your mobile phone works away from home? Yes, European standards. Ever thought why you need to carry a bag full of electrical adaptors when you travel abroad? That’s right - a lack of European standards!
But standards address more than issues of interoperability for consumers.
The use of standards can also:
- raise consumer protection and reduce the risk of accidents
- help promote environmental protection and sustainability
- make the quality of services more consistent
- ensure people of all ages and abilities have equal access to products and services
- serve to underpin the digital age and the information society
ANEC participates principally through its voluntary experts in the standards development work of the three European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs) recognised by the European Union and EFTA:
We also participate in other organisations which develop standards whose use could directly or indirectly affect the European consumer, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), as well as UNECE (the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), in which ANEC participates under the umbrella of Consumers International in the UNECE GRSP Informal Group on Child Restraint Systems. In total, ANEC participates in more than 155 technical bodies of the European and international standards organisations.
A regional and international network
ANEC works closely with, BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation, our EU-level sister organisation, which acts as an umbrella group in Brussels defending the mainstream interests of Europe’s consumers. ANEC is a formal supporter of the international consumer organisation, Consumers International (CI). Our aim with Consumers International is to ensure consumer interests in standardisation are taken into account also at global level. Another international sister organisation is ICRT, a global organisation active in the area of research and testing.
ANEC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its three sister organisations in October 2016.
What is the economic benefit of standards?
The academic study of the benefits of standards and standardisation has been quite limited and focused at the national level, but the German national standards body, DIN, has calculated that the use of standards contributes one percentage point to the annual growth of the German economy (about 27.000M€).
Similarly, the United Kingdom government attributes 13% of the growth in British labour productivity since 1945 to the use of standards. Other UK studies show that standardisation adds between 0.3% and 1% to the GDP on an annual basis.
Although ANEC appreciates these measures of the economic benefits in underlining the importance of standards, we still await a formal academic assessment of the contribution of standards to societal welfare. In 2014, we did our own preliminary study. Its conclusions stressed the difficulty in defining quantitative data on societal benefits.