Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Official Journal Reference

L 36 of 1987-02-07

Legislative Reference

87/95/CEE of 1986-12-22
To promote the preparation and application of standards in the field of information technology and of functional specifications in the field of telecommunications, and to achieve a significant increase in conformity with these standards and specifications for products and services marketed and used within the Community or offered by suppliers in the Community on world markets.


The main thrust of the activities carried out in application of Council Decision 87/95/EEC of 22.12.1986 is to promote standardization at the European level in the field of Information Technology (IT). The Decision also covers functional specifications for the exchange of information and data between IT systems over public telecommunications networks. It excludes common technical specifications ("NETs") for terminal equipment connected to public telecommunications networks, which are covered by Council Directive 86/361/EEC of 24.7.1986 (Official Journal No L 217 of 5.8.1986), and specifications for equipment forming any part of the telecommunications networks themselves.

To prevent the creation of new technical barriers within the Community, Council Directive 83/189/EEC of 28.3.1983 (Official Journal No L 109 of 25.4.1983) obliges Member States to notify the Commission of any work on national standards and technical regulations. A temporary halt to this work may then be called and, if considered appropriate, a joint European activity may be initiated.

Under the "New Approach" adopted in 1985 (Council Resolution of 7.5.1985, Official Journal No C 136 of 4.6.1985), the legal and technical aspects of standardization are kept separate. Legislative harmonization is limited to the adoption, by means of Directives based on Article 100 of the EEC Treaty, of the essential safety requirements (or other requirements in the general interest) with which products put on the market must conform, whereas the task of drawing up the technical specifications needed to meet these requirements is entrusted to organizations competent in the standardization area.

Numerous outside organizations play a vital role in the standardization process, inter alia: the European Workshop on Open Systems (EWOS) within the CEN/CENELEC framework; the Standards Promotion and Application Group (SPAG); the European Computer Manufacturers' Association (ECMA); the European Telecommunications and Professional Electronics Industry (ECTEL); the European MAP Users' Group (EMUG); the Confederation of European Computer User Associations (CECUA).


Measures and activities:

- Preparation of work programmes and definition of priorities:
. Gathering detailed information on the basis of national and international programmes;
. Dissemination of that information, examination of requirements and consultation of interested parties;
. Synchronization of the work programmes with international standardization activities;
. Management of work programmes;
. Preparation of reports describing the execution of the activities and the practical results of their implementation;

- Execution of standardization activities in the field of information technology (generally entrusted to the European standards bodies CEN/CENELEC, CEPT and ETSI):
. Refinement of international standards;
. Drafting of European standards (ENs) and prestandards (ENVs);
. Definition of the conditions to be fulfilled in order to establish complete conformity to a standard;
. Preparation of test standards or test specifications and organization of procedures and structures for harmonized conformity testing (CTS programme);

- Activities affecting the telecommunications sector:
. Drafting of functional specifications;
. Raising the degree of convergence in the field common to information technology and telecommunication for the flexible and harmonized application of standards and functional specifications;

- Complementary measures:
. Specific metrological activities to promote the development of test and validation instruments and formal description techniques and to provide support for the case of references;
. Promotion of the preparation of manuals on the application of standards for the end user;
. Promotion of demonstrations in respect of the operating compatibility achieved as a result of the application of a standard;
. Promotion of arrangements which contribute to the efficient exchange of information in particular fields of professional activity (travel agency transactions, banking, customs documents, robotics, etc.);
. Studies and projects relating specially to standardization in the field of information technology.

- Measures relating to the application of standards in the public procurement sector:
. Determination of the most efficient methods of ensuring the rapid application of the standards and technical specifications within the context of the present Decision while assuring appropriate linking with activities depending on Directive 77/62/EEC (Official Journal No L 13 of 15.1.1977) coordinating procedures for the award of public supply contracts.


The Commission is assisted in its standardization activities by two advisory committees, the Senior Officials Group for Information Technology Standardization (SOGITS) and the Senior Officials Group for Telecommunications (SOGT), composed of representatives of the Commission and of the Member States.

Within the context of Decision 87/95/EEC the Commission's first main task is to determine on a regular, at least annual, basis the priority standardization requirements with a view to the preparation of work programmes, the development of IT standards and the development of functional specifications for telecommunications. However, it is not a standardization body and does not produce standards or functional specifications. It initiates or encourages their production, bearing a fair proportion of the costs, through "mandates" entrusted to the competent standardization bodies (CEN/CENELEC, CEPT, ETSI) with whom it has concluded framework contracts. These bodies reserve the right to accept or reject a mandate, to define the technical specification and, on completion of the work, to vote on whether or not the specification should be approved as a standard. Standard bodies of the EFTA countries are members of CEN/CENELEC, CEPT and ETSI and therefore participate in the technical work.

The Commission's second main task is to implement measures to facilitate the application of standards and functional specifications, in particular by coordinating Member States' activities in conformance testing and certification. Through the Conformance Testing Services Programme (CTS) launched in 1985, the Commission supports up to 50% of the cost of projects aimed at establishing testing centres capable of verifying the conformity of IT products to IT and telecommunications standards. About 40 such centres are expected to be operational in 1991. These should become progressively self-financing through testing fees. A third phase of the programme, covering mainly telecommunications standards, began in 1990.

Finally , Decision 87/95/EEC calls upon the Commission to promote the application of standards and functional specifications relating to IT and telecommunications in public sector orders and technical regulations. The Commission projects EUROMETHOD and EPHOS (European Procurement Handbook for Open Systems), launched in 1990, relate to these areas.

In 1990 Community appropriations for IT standardization through 1992 and subsequent years, including commitments entered into before 1989 to be covered by new payment appropriations, amounted to nearly ECU 30 million.

Decision 87/95/EEC requires that the Commission submit every two years a progress report to the European Parliament and the Council on standardization activities in the information technology sector.
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