Frankfurt Agreement streamlines European and IEC Standards

New Agreement enhances transparency and pools expert resources

By Antoinette Price

Today, electrical and electronic devices are the largest category of goods traded in the world, representing 17,7% of total trade value in 2015, according to UN Comtrade statistics. This doesn’t include lighting, photographic devices, aircraft and trains. IEC publishes the majority of International Standards for these devices and systems and around 80% of all European electrotechnical standards are identical to or based on IEC International Standards.

Frankfurt Agreement signing IEC President Dr Junji Normura and CENELEC President Dr Bernhard Thies sign the Frankfurt Agreement

Increasing IEC visibility

During the IEC General Meeting in Frankfurt, IEC and CENELEC, its European counterpart, signed the Frankfurt Agreement, to increase harmonization between International and European standards.

The new Agreement will avoid duplication of efforts and help make the best use of IEC and European experts. It will also greatly increase transparency and facilitate content traceability, as CENELEC will start to include the IEC acronym in the designation of all European standards that are identical to IEC International Standards.

“Most countries in the world accept products that are built to IEC International Standards. This harmonization facilitates global trade and it allows developed and developing countries to compete on an equal footing, levelling the playing field.  This agreement with CENELEC, an important IEC partner, will further boost the efficiency of both organizations, making best use of resources and ultimately help make the world a safer place,” said Frans Vreeswijk, IEC General Secretary & CEO.

Benefiting manufacturers, businesses and consumers alike

Europe is an important consumer of electrical and electronic devices and systems. It also has thousands of small, medium and large companies active in this field. The Frankfurt Agreement will benefit the European electrical and electronic industry. Companies which rely on IEC International Standards will find it easier to export to markets around the world. Additionally, manufacturers from other countries will also be able to export assemblies and products more easily into the European market.

Bernhard Thies, President of CENELEC said, “An electron is an electron, in Europe, Asia, the US or Africa. There is really no good reason to have a different standard from one region to the next. Differences waste time and money and make it more difficult for European manufacturers to export and compete globally. This agreement is an important path forward in harmonizing European standards with the world and increasing European industry competitiveness on the global market.”

The Frankfurt Agreement is a revision of the Dresden Agreement, which was approved in October 1991 and further modified in October 1996. It introduces changes which reflect the evolution of both organizations over 25 years.

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Frankfurt Agreement signing IEC President Dr Junji Normura and CENELEC President Dr Bernhard Thies sign the Frankfurt Agreement
Junji Nomura and Bernhard Thies with Frankfurt Agreement The new Agreement will avoid duplication of efforts and greatly increase transparency