What Are Standards?
A standard is an agreed way of making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials.
Standards can be agreed for all aspects of how we live, from standards for quality, product performance and safety to standards for building design and services.
Standards create a climate of trust in the marketplace for goods and services. For customers, a product or service which is certified to a standard is a badge of quality. For businesses, compliance with standards can provide protection against unfair competition and help instil consumer confidence.
NSAI Standards, as a member of CEN CENELEC, is committed to complying with CEN CENELEC membership requirements and participates in a regular review process to ensure ongoing compliance. This includes a commitment to the following
- Openness and sustainability
- Impartiality and consensus
- Effectiveness and relevance
- Viability and stability
NSAI Standards policies and procedures are developed to reflect and support these commitments. Further information can be provided on request.
NSAI Standards policies and processes are designed to ensure that, where applicable, the funding for standards development work does not adversely affect the impartiality of the standards development process.
How Do NSAI Make Standards?
Within Ireland, NSAI develops standards through a consultative process, which usually involves the following stages:
- Identifying the need to set a standard
- Defining the scope of the standard (e.g. the technical, environmental or safety specifications which need to be set)
- Consulting with other interested parties with a view to achieving a consensus
- Publishing the agreed standards for the relevant product or service issuing certification
What standardization bodies is NSAI a member of?
NSAI is the Irish member of:
- European Committee for Standardization (CEN)
- European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC)
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
- European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI)
As Ireland's National Standards Body, NSAI is obliged to comply the EU Regulation on Standardisation, Regulation 1025/2012.
As a member of CEN and CENELEC, NSAI Standards is obliged to meet the membership requirements of those organisations.
The NSAI Standards Quality Management System, which is ISO 9001 compliant, incorporates measures which ensure compliance with EU Regulation 1025/2012 and CEN CENELEC membership criteria.
Standards Committees and Membership
NSAI Technical Bodies are structured to mirror where possible, the structure of the related international committees, and are typically organised into Technical Committees (TC), Sub-Committees (SC), and Working Group(s) (WG).
Participation in NSAI standards development work is open to all stakeholders with recognised interest in the scope of the work. Further information about NSAI committees and their scope.
The roles of NSAI committee members, Chairpersons and Secretaries are summarised below. Further information is available if required.
- Chairperson: A committee member, that acts impartially in conducting meetings and affairs of the committee in accordance with NSAI procedures.
- Committee Secretary: Typically an NSAI staff member, that supports the functioning of the committee i.e. organising meetings, preparing agendas, casting votes, etc.
- Member: A committee member representing an organisation, association or particular area of expertise, and contributing technical input to the work of the committee.
- Membership rules: The rules for membership are outlined in our FAQ section .
NSAI facilitates Irish stakeholder engagement in the work of CEN, CENELEC, ISO, ETSI, and IEC. NSAI experts must follow the NSAI rules and the rules of the international standards bodies, when participating in standards development work.
Standards and Competition
Standards play a pivotal role within the context of the competitive market and the single market within the EU. To ensure that standards do not cause unlawful distortion or adverse effects in the market, controls have been introduced to NSAI procedures to ensure compliance with CEN CENELEC membership requirements around :
- Intellectual Property Rights
- Patent Policy
- Copyright Policy
General Information regarding patents and intellectual property rights can be found in CEN/CENELEC Guide 8.
The patent policy includes information regarding royalty-free or FRAND conditions.
Currently there are no indigenous Irish Standards that include patents.
NSAI retains the copyright of all Standards published under NSAI.
No copying without NSAI permission except as permitted by copyright law.
How Do Standards Help Trade?
As a cost-effective way of complying with regulations, Standards help to stimulate trade both in domestic and overseas markets. Many public sector contracts are required to comply with specified standards.
Voluntary standards are a form of flexible self-regulation for business and can remove the need for government-imposed regulation, which tends to be more rigid and less adaptable.
NSAI works closely with the Irish Government and provides support to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation on the subject of the removal of technical trade barriers.
What Standards are Legally Enforceable?
The standardization of most products and services is a voluntary process. However, some standards are established by law, through European Directives and Irish legislation.
NSAI, as a member of CEN CENELEC, is obliged to notify European Standards that become compulsory at national level. It is not possible for NSAI to identify all such standards. However when NSAI becomes aware of such standards, they will be notified as required.
These are designed to protect the public and employees, and include: