Interest Representation in European Standardisation: The Case of CEN and CENELEC

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2019-52

Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance Research Paper No. 2019-06

20 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2019

See all articles by Pierluigi Cuccuru

Pierluigi Cuccuru

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa

Date Written: December 17, 2019


Technical standards are important tools of regulation. They answer market needs, complement legislation and support public policies in highly complex areas. In doing so, technical standards weigh economic and non-economic interests and, therefore, impact on the wellbeing of society as a whole.

As technical standards are typically issued to private standardisation bodies operating outside the safeguards of public decision-making, effective interest representation plays a major role in enhancing the legitimacy of private standard-setting and their ‘acceptability’ in the eyes of market players, institutions, and citizens. Regulation (EU) 1025/2012 – the Standardisation Regulation – moves in this direction and calls for effective stakeholder representation in European standardisation.

To this end, the Standardisation Regulation enhances the procedural integrity of European standards by subjecting the ‘European Standardisation Organisations’ (ESOs) to the principles of ‘transparency’, and ‘appropriate representation’ and ‘effective participation’ of affected stakeholders.

This paper investigates how these principles have been transposed into the internal rules and practice of two out of the three ESOs, namely the ‘Comité européen de normalisation’ (CEN) and the ‘Comité européen de normalisation électrotechnique’ (CENELEC).

Preliminarily, the paper will give a brief overview of the European standardisation system (Section 2) and its framework of interest representation (Section 3). Within this framework, the paper will highlight the mechanisms of stakeholder involvement in CEN and CENELEC. In particular, the focus will lie on the involvement in standard-setting of the so-called Annex III organisations (A3Os) – i.e., the associations representing ‘societal’ interests and small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in European standardisation.

Building on this, the paper will firstly outline how interest representation is currently addressed by the internal rules of the CEN and CENELEC. Secondly, the paper will assess to what extent these rules accommodate the principles of ‘appropriate representation’ and ‘effective participation’ envisaged by the Standardisation Regulation (Section 4). This analysis will be complemented by an overview of the variables that in practice may jeopardise the participation of ‘weak’ interest groups into European standard-setting, with specific reference to A3Os (Section 5).

Finally, the paper will highlight a discrepancy between the abstract and actual conditions of stakeholder participation in CEN and CENELEC. In this regard, the ‘ladder of participation’ conceptualized in 1969 by Sherry R. Arnstein will be taken as a testing ground (Section 6). Some final remarks will follow (Section 7).

Keywords: eu law, technical standards, standardisation, interest representation, participation, CEN, CENELEC

JEL Classification: K2, K4, K23, K33

Suggested Citation

Cuccuru, Pierluigi, Interest Representation in European Standardisation: The Case of CEN and CENELEC (December 17, 2019). Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2019-52, Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance Research Paper No. 2019-06, Available at SSRN: or

Pierluigi Cuccuru (Contact Author)

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa ( email )

Biblioteca Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
Piazza Martiri della Liberta, n. 33
Pisa, 56127

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