I recently had a question about the EN adoptions of IEC standards. The question was basically, “How can I know when an EN adoption of an IEC standard is identical to the original IEC document?” This is a valid question since the EN adoptions may or may not include changes from the source material.
Of course, since all EN ISO adoptions are labeled that way (i.e., “EN ISO 9001”), questions come up frequently about why the IEC adoptions are not the same. I have always answered that since the IEC adoptions are not necessarily identical to the source, the same numbering protocol has not been used. While true, most customers are not very pleased with this answer!
Well, good news for all you standards users out there! CENELEC and IEC have signed a new agreement that will change the way that the adoption process is handled. Here are some highlights from the new Frankfurt agreement last October.
Currently 80% of the EN adoptions of IEC standards are identical to the source material. From now on, IEC documents that are adopted without changes will be labeled “EN IEC.” This will be just like the ISO adoptions. So when you see a new release numbered “EN IEC,” you’ll know the IEC content has not been changed.
Further, CENELEC and IEC are striving to harmonize an even greater number of standards. So there should be more European adoptions that are identical to the source IEC standards. Organizations that rely on these documents for their electronic products (now almost 20% of all global trade) are sure to be pleased.
National differences in standards make for confusion and expense. And they detract from a region or country’s competitiveness. This is good news indeed that Europe is working towards a reduction in these types of variations.
The lack of clarity in the current situation has been a hindrance to global usage of the EN adoptions. It has caused confusion in the marketplace when a product meets the requirements of the EN adoption. Folks just don’t know if meeting the EN edition is the same as meeting the IEC edition. Over time, the new protocol will make it easier to understand equivalencies.
The last time the EN adoptions of IEC standards were administratively addressed was back in 1996 in Dresden. Times have changed and industry is pushing for more harmonization as markets continue to globalize. Expect to see the new system implemented soon. And don’t be surprised when some of the numbers of the standards you frequently use are updated. Now that you know what the revision means, you’ll be glad to see it happening!
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