Establishing the programme of work of a Technical Committee


This guidance document gives advice to Technical Committees (TC) when they establish their programme of work, in particular when deciding on their work items and priorities.

In this document, 'Priority' means: Hierarchy of all work items belonging to a programme of work established by taking into account the interrelation between work items, their foreseen date for publication, etc.


2.1 The operation of the CEN System requires three main functions to be performed:

  • the drafting of standards (leading to the timely production of high quality documents) - level of the Working Group (WG);
  • the programming and planning of the execution of future standards, and the management of consensus building processes - level of the Technical Committee (TC);
  • the policy setting and the general co-ordination, overall management and arbitration - level of the Technical Board (BT) and Administrative Board (CA).

2.2 Clause 11.1.1 of the CEN/CENELEC Internal Regulations - Part 2 states that:

"CEN/CENELEC deal with precise and limited subjects for which standardization is clearly and urgently needed, which can be pursued with intensive work and which are approved for inclusion in their programme of work."

Hence, when considering its programme of work, the CEN/TC must always keep in mind that, once it has been agreed to produce a standard (or other deliverable) on a given subject, the TC remains accountable for the timely delivery of the standard in question.

2.3 The programming and planning of future standards by the TC should be done by taking into account:

  • the objectives of the TC;
  • the market needs;
  • the available expertise and resources;
  • the CEN rules and procedures, particularly the timeframes for the development of new deliverables;
  • external factors (e.g. need for pre-normative research).

The programme of work of a TC should be carefully prepared. It should neither be established in a competition spirit against other TCs (or other standardization organizations) nor as a way to obtain credibility by proposing an overabundant number of work items, without relation with the existing market needs and reality.

The  aim of the programme of work is to give the best (technical) answer to some well targeted needs or problems in a specific area that have been identified.

The more accurate its preparation is, the easier will be:

  • the drafting of the standards by the WG(s);
  • the management of the programme of work by the TC.

2.4 The decision to develop any future standard should be clearly understood as an a-priori accepted decision to reach the most appropriate level of consensus possible.

Consequently, the setting of a suitable level of harmonization (existence of diversity, etc.), the choice of the adequate type of deliverable (EN, CEN/TS or CEN/TR) and also the choice of the mode of production of the proposed standard should be examined in the light of the likelihood of an actual consensus being reached, which will answer expressed needs within the agreed time frame through the chosen development procedure.


3.1  The preparation of the programme of work should start by collecting all information related to the new subject.

A lot of information is already available on the new activity field proposal (former Form A) and related comments of CEN members. They provide data by identifying international standards and the corresponding national standards, within the scope of the TC, notifying the aspects that should be covered, listing the national regulations that cover this subject, listing the national technical solutions, etc.
Generally, reports, financial/business studies, consumers' trends, etc. exist in each area of activity and can be provided by e.g. the European associations representing the concerned industry/sector. Moreover, the representatives of the concerned industry within the TC or WG should be in a position to provide the needed information.

3.2  A list of all potential projects, highlighting the major aspects that should be covered, should be established.

A careful analysis of each potential project should then be made in accordance with 'GD - Adoption of a new work item in a CEN/TC'.

3.3  The interrelationship between the various subjects should be identified. This interrelation between several projects should also be taken into account when deciding on the urgency of some tasks with regard to others (fixing priority), on the type of final deliverable (EN, CEN/TS, CEN/TR, etc.), on the setting up of the strategy related to the mode of production (sequential/parallel), on the possible package of ENs, on the mode of co-operation to be established with other technical bodies...

3.4  When defining the work programme the possible cooperation with ISO, if a relevant ISO technical committee exists, should be considered (see 'Agreement on technical co-operation between ISO and CEN - Vienna Agreement' and the ‘guidelines for its implementation’). 

3.5  When the drafting of the standard is allocated to a WG, the proposed work item should be sufficiently well defined to allow the WG to work efficiently towards a goal clearly accepted defined by the TC and WG, and for which the necessary resources are secured in terms of expertise and standardization know-how.
Precise briefs for the substructure and work specifications (cahier des charges) should be set up and subject to acceptance by the WG in order to become a contract between the TC and the WG.
The schedule of the whole foreseen programme of work shall be established and the TC should adapt its development to the availability of human/financial resources, particularly of the CEN Member holding the TC Secretariat and those CEN Members supporting its WG.
Particular attention should be paid to the amount of administrative work of the TC Secretariat. The work should be organized in such a way that temporary overload of work can be avoided.

3.6 For each work item that the TC decides to register in its programme of work, the following information shall be given:

Title: Each work item shall receive a title in conformity with the rules of presentation of ENs (up to three elements: an introductory element, a main element and a complementary element).

Scope: Each work item shall have a scope, defining without ambiguity the subject of the document and the aspect(s) covered, thereby indicating the limits of applicability of the document or particular parts of it (what is actually to be standardized - type of document, standard to be produced: terminology/test/product standard,...).

Type of deliverable: EN (with initiation of standstill), CEN/TR or CEN/TS.

Way of production: submission of an available reference (e.g. ISO standard) to Enquiry and Formal Vote; transfer of the work to ISO within the framework of the Vienna Agreement; development of a draft in a Working Group of the TC.

Target dates: They are fixed at the end of the planning and have to be acceptable by the TC and WG(s). The strategic milestones of each work item as described in the timeframe matrix shall be respected.

Allocation of the work: number and title of the responsible TC/WG (if any).

Mandate(s) or standardization request(s): if applicable, number of the mandate(s) or Standardization Request(s) (M/xxx) under which the work item is requested.

Directive(s): if applicable, number and title of the Directive(s) that the work item will be in support of, with, for each of them, whether the resulting standard should be cited in the Official Journal.

The list of all these work items with the information mentioned above shall be approved by the TC (see Delegated Decisions) and then submitted by the TC Secretary to CCMC via the PROJEX-ONLINE Working Area (See Process 'Programming of the work' of a Technical Committee).


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