Management of the CEN System

Taking into consideration the prime values of CEN, such as consensus and voluntary participation, the objective of this page is to explain the existing different levels for the overall management of the CEN System.


CEN is a multinational, multi-sector, highly decentralized organization aimed primarily at facilitating the consensus between economic partners and other relevant stakeholders  (e.g. stakeholders representing consumers, workers or environmental) who, within the framework of the national delegation principle, voluntarily decide to participate in technical discussions leading to the adoption of European Standards and other CEN deliverables. The aim is to deliver high-quality standards for products and services to support European competitiveness, the protection of the environment and sustainable growth for the well-being of citizens and the strengthening of the single market.

To match these objectives, the CEN System should work efficiently, including its decision making processes.
Unless quality, market relevance, and timely delivery of deliverables are achieved, the CEN System cannot meet the expectations of its customers.


The CEN System consists of the following three main levels of decision with regard to technical work:

  • The CEN Administrative Board (CA) manages and administers CEN’s business by directing the work and coordinating the actions of all CEN bodies with the aim of executing the decisions taken by the General Assembly. The Administrative Board, among others, is empowered by the General Assembly to manage the technical work by delegation to the Technical Board.
  • The CEN Technical Board (BT) controls the full standards programme and promotes its timely execution by the Technical Committees (TC), the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre (CCMC), and other bodies. Its key responsibilities are to advice on all matters concerning the organization, the working procedures, coordination and planning of standards work, to approve CEN technical policies and strategies, to examine and decide on proposals for new projects. The BT has created the BT Technical Committee Management Group (BT/TCMG)  to strengthen the overall management of the work programme. It operates with the delegated authority of BT to deal with specific matters related to the management of the work programme.
  • The CEN Technical Committee  is a technical decision making body with precise title, scope and work programme, established by the BT to manage the preparation of CEN deliverables within its scope. Technical Committees shall establish Working Groups (WG) to undertake a specific task in the context of the TC work programme, resulting in the provision of (a) draft deliverable(s). It works within clearly defined policy guidelines from its parent body. On completion of its task, the Working Group (WG) is disbanded.

This leads to three levels of decision-making with delegation of tasks and decisions to the most appropriate level.
They are assisted in their tasks and decision-making process by the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre (CCMC), and the CEN Members.


Each of the 3 levels is to be considered as fully accountable for its specific function and is expected to manage itself in order to reach its objectives. By exception, the layer above will take direct action (review of decisions, arbitration, direct management) when such expectations are not fulfilled.
Most management is effectively self-management of the various parts of the CEN System, taking into account the overall objectives and constraints of the organization.

It is particularly important to stress the fact that the CEN System operates largely through voluntary contributions, and reaches decisions through consensus building.

It remains a responsibility of the policy making level of CEN to ensure that management at all levels is effective and to take appropriate action to remedy situations where this is not the case.


CEN Technical Committees are the backbone of the CEN System because they embody by definition the interests of all interested parties and provide the technical expertise to draft standards.


In order to facilitate efficient working, the Technical Board has delegated decision-making in most ordinary cases to the appropriate level, usually the technical committee, as this is where the work takes place.
The principle of delegation is accompanied by full transparency across the CEN System to ensure that all necessary information is available for those making decisions, and that all decisions are available for scrutiny and for possible review.
This principle of empowerment via delegated decision-making should be accompanied by the provision of necessary and sufficient knowledge and professional support from the TC secretary and CCMC.


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