What is ANEC?
ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation. This means we represent the European consumer interest in the creation of technical standards, especially those developed to support the implementation of European laws and public policies.
Although that may not sound important or interesting, standards provide the nuts and bolts of modern society. Ever thought why your mobile phone works away from home? Yes, standards. Ever thought why you need to carry a bag full of electrical adaptors when you travel abroad? That’s right - a lack of standards!
But standards address more than issues of interoperability for consumers.
The use of standards can also:
raise consumer protection and reduce the risk of accidents
help promote environmental protection
make the quality of services more consistent
ensure people of all ages and abilities have equal access to products and services
serve to underpin the digital age and the information society
ANEC participates principally through its voluntary experts in the standards development work of the three European Standards Organisations (ESOs) recognised by the European Union and EFTA:
However, we also participate in other organisations which develop standards whose use could directly or indirectly affect the European consumer. One such organisation is UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), in which ANEC participates under the umbrella of Consumers International in the UNECE GRSP Informal Group on Child Restrain Systems.
ANEC also has an interest in the use of standards and the use of certification schemes that demonstrate conformity to standards. We also seek to influence the development or revision of European legislation related to products and services which is likely to affect the consumer.
The representation of consumers in the European standardisation process is a public interest activity dependent upon European public funding. Hence the ANEC budget is financed by the European Union (95%) and EFTA (5%).
In 2012, the ANEC budget totals 1,4M€. The participation of our voluntary experts is considered by the European Commission and EFTA Secretariat as a contribution in kind. In 2007, the ANEC Secretariat calculated the value of this contribution to be 260.000€.
ANEC is an international non-profit association established under Belgian law with a central secretariat in Brussels, Belgium. We are recognised by the European Commission and EFTA Secretariat and are a full member of the European Consumer Consultative Group (ECCG).
What is the economic benefit of standards?
The academic study of the benefits of standards and standardisation has been quite limited and focused at the national level, but the German national standards body, DIN, has calculated that the use of standards contributes one percentage point to the annual growth of the German economy (about 20.000M€).
Similarly, the United Kingdom government attributes 13% of the growth in British labour productivity since 1945 to the use of standards.
Although ANEC appreciates these measures of the economic benefits in underlining the importance of standards, we still await a formal academic assessment of the contribution of standards to societal welfare.
How is ANEC structured?
ANEC is governed by a General Assembly (ANEC/GA) which comprises of one individual from each of the 33 countries of the European Union and EFTA. In January 2012 and July 2012, Turkey and the Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia have joined as the 32nd and 33rd member. The individual is nominated through a collective decision of the national consumer organisations in each country and acts as the interlocutor between them and ANEC. Each General Assembly serves a four-year term and ordinarily meets annually. The General Assembly meeting is presided over by the ANEC President, elected by the General Assembly from among its membership for a two-year term. The ANEC Secretary-General acts as its secretary.
The strategic decisions of the General Assembly are implemented by an executive board known as the ANEC Steering Committee (ANEC/SC). Chaired by the ANEC President, the Steering Committee comprises up to nine members elected by the General Assembly from among its membership for a two-year term. The Steering Committee members elect the ANEC Vice-President and ANEC Treasurer, again for two-year terms. The Steering Committee meets up to four times each year and also works by correspondence.
Each field of priority in which ANEC operates, determined by the ANEC General Assembly and Steering Committee, has a Working Group (ANEC/WG) as its focus. Each WG has a Chair (appointed as an observer to the General Assembly) and Secretary (a Programme Manager from the ANEC Secretariat). Its members are voluntary experts drawn from across the countries of the ANEC membership. Among other responsibilities, each WG is responsible for defining the priorities in its sector and for determining the positions of the ANEC representatives in the ESOs and similar organisations.
In 2012, the ANEC budget allowed ANEC to operate in following main areas of priority: Child Safety, Design for All (DfA), Domestic Appliances (DOMAP), Environment, Information Society, Services, Traffic, Nanotechnologies and Smart Meters.
The ANEC Secretariat acts as the hub of the association. Headed by the ANEC Secretary-General, it co-ordinates the activities of its national actors at European (and sometimes international) level; supports the governance and technical bodies of the association and the members of those bodies, and leads on the lobbying of the European institutions.