CEN-CENELEC approach on addressing SMEs needs when writing standards 

CEN-CENELEC Guide 17 'Guidance for writing standards taking into account micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) needs' is one of the reference documents that have been published by CEN and CENELEC to provide orientation, give advice and recommendations to standard writers on how to take into account SMEs needs. The document addresses the issues to be considered during the development process of standards.


Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may be underrepresented in standard writing groups and their interests may thus not be sufficiently taken into account. In addition, the costs of implementation of some standards may be relatively high, particularly standards aimed at large scale or mass production may be too costly and complex to implement to some smaller businesses.
The aim of the guide is to raise awareness on the issues that may be of importance for SMEs in the development of standards and to overcome possible non-representation of SMEs in standardization work.
SMEs are present in the majority of sectors. As the other users do, SMEs benefit from the technical expertise of the standards in the elaboration of which they may not have been present. Nevertheless, they may have a weaker position in their product or service markets because of their dependency on larger competitors, suppliers or customers. They may also have to adapt to the existing solutions on the market as well as to the European Standards. That is why special attention is required to address the interests of SMEs and in particular micro enterprises as potential users of standards.
The fact that SMEs could not participate to the development process of the standard, cannot be a barrier for the SME to use the standard. Guide 17 provides guidance to writers of European Standards in order to avoid the exclusion of SMEs from the market and the distortion of fair competition.


Guide 17 contains:

  • Considerations for the development of standards that are best adapted to SME needs;
  • Techniques for identifying and assessing provisions in standards that may especially impact SMEs;
  • Ways to reduce negative impacts on SMEs resulting from some provisions in standards;
  • Guidelines for writing SME friendly standards;
  • Guide checklist;
  • Information on how to make a micro enterprise impact of new standards.


The guide is relevant to all involved in standardization i.e. standard writers in Working Groups or Technical Committees as well as members of national mirror committees.


Not all principles presented in Guide 17 necessarily have to apply to all standards. Therefore TCs and WGs are the best place to evaluate if and how to address specific needs of SMEs in their standards.