Continue to the content

What is a standard?

As an organization, it can be interesting to stand up for your interests and to influence the development of standards within your sector. But what exactly is a standard?

To put it as simply as possible:

“A standard is a document, established through strict procedure and by consensus and approved by an authorized institution. This document contains rules, guidelines or specifications for communal and repetitive use. A standard aims to create the greatest possible order and clarity within a given context."

A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and practices. In contrast, a custom, convention, company product, corporate standard, and so forth that becomes generally accepted and dominant is often called a de facto standard.

A technical standard may be developed privately or unilaterally, for example by a corporation, regulatory body, military, etc. Standards can also be developed by groups such as trade unions and trade associations. Standards organizations often have more diverse input and usually develop voluntary standards: these might become mandatory if adopted by a government (i.e., through legislation), business contract, etc. The standardization process may be by edict or may involve the formal consensus of technical experts. (source Wikipedia)


How does the BEC work?

“A standard is a document, …”

Experts draft a standard document within the BEC: embedded in the European and international context, with thorough technical know-how, and by the book. This document is subsequently published in our electronic standards shop, where it can be purchased from our website by stakeholders.

“...established through strict procedure and by consensus...”

Consensus decision-making is crucial to successful standards development and contributes to the great force exuded by a standard. The BEC invites all stakeholders, government bodies and companies to participate in the technical committees where this consensus is reached.

The market impact of a standard is considerable precisely because it is the result of market-driven structural consensus decision-making and approval on the strictest of criteria.

“and approved by an authorized institution.”

The BEC is recognized by NBN as the sectoral operator in Belgium for electrotechnics and electronics. The BEC is also a recognized national member of and operator for CENELEC (the European umbrella standardisation body) and IEC (the internationally recognized standardisation body). Most electrotechnical standards distributed in Belgium by the BEC are in fact the result of collaboration with the European and international levels.

This document contains rules, guidelines or specifications...”

A standard is not legally binding in itself. However, if a law, royal decree or contract refers directly to a specific standard, that standard does become legally binding.

“... for communal and repetitive use.”

Communal means: as standard practice within the industry and the market for all (or most) companies. For repetitive use, not one-off application: a standard's power comes from repetition and permanent application.

“...within a given context.”

The context in which the BEC operates is the domain of electrotechnics and electronics. NBN is responsible for all other domains in Belgium, in collaboration with other sectoral standardisation operators.

“... to create the greatest possible order and clarity...”

The aim of standards development is to serve the interests of industry and citizens/consumers through the practice of uniformity. That means every standard has technical, economic as well as social consequences. Standards development specifically pursues safety, compatibility and more and more often also energy efficiency and environmentally friendliness.

Can standards development mean something for your organization?

Cooperate with the BEC?

Can we help your organization represent your interests in standards development? Or do you have a question for us? Contact the BEC.