What does the acronym ANEC mean?

ANEC stands for the "European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation AISBL". Instead of this long version, ANEC is often described as "The European consumer voice in standardisation".

Our strap line is ‘Raising standards for consumers’.

Why is there a need for ANEC?

Standardisation is a private and not a public activity. Moreover, the consumer expertise needed in the development of European standards is scarce or non-existent in many countries. With the standards development work in CEN & CENELEC based on the contribution of national delegations, ANEC was created to address this national fragmentation by providing a coherent, collective consumer voice at the European level. As such, ANEC is greater than the sum of its national parts.

What kind of organisation is ANEC?

ANEC was established in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law (AISBL). It is a non-governmental organisation representing the consumer interest in standardisation. Its core mission is funded exclusively by the European Commission (through DG GROW) and EFTA. The Secretariat is based in Brussels.

Whom does ANEC represent?

ANEC represents the collective interests of consumers from EU Member States, EFTA (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), some candidate accession countries (Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey), and the United Kingdom. Our strategic decisions are based on contributions made through the national consumer organisations in each country to the individual appointed to represent that country in the ANEC General Assembly.

Read more on the structure of ANEC.

What is the mission of ANEC?

ANEC has three main objectives:

    -to represent the collective European consumer interest in the development of European standards and other standards that may affect the consumer, directly or indirectly;
    -to represent the collective European consumer interest in the use of European standards (including conformity assessment, accreditation, market surveillance and enforcement);
    -to represent the consumer interest in the development or revision of European legislation and policies that affect products and services, especially in relation to standardisation.

Why is consumer representation in standardisation important?

Standards affect us all every day and everywhere. Consumer representation is needed to balance the business interests that dominate the standardisation process in the three European Standardisation Organisations (CEN, CENELEC, ETSI), all which are private associations.

It is particularly important that the public interest is reflected in the European Standards ‘mandated’ by the European Commission and EFTA Secretariat to support implementation of the range of Directives that set essential safety requirements for sectoral product groupings (such as toys, machinery, personal protective equipment, mobile phones). In January 2010, the New Legislative Framework (Regulation 765/2008 and Decision 768/2008) for products entered into force. It establishes a common legal framework for industrial products in the form of a toolbox of measures for use in future legislation (market surveillance and the application of the CE marking, definitions of terms commonly used).

Standards are also used to assess the safety of products falling under the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) such as child care articles. The GPSD is applicable to consumer products that are not covered by specific sector legislation.

On 25 October 2012, the European Parliament and Council of Ministers adopted a new Regulation on European Standardisation (Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012). It provides a legal basis for the funding of the European voice in standardisation until 2020 and sets political expectations for the strengthening of the voice of societal interests in the standards development process. Read more about it and its implications for ANEC here.

How does ANEC contribute to standardisation?

ANEC representatives participate in around 175 Technical Committees and Working Groups of CEN, CENELEC or ETSI. The work of ANEC representatives is complemented by national consumer representatives serving on other committees and working groups. ANEC also participates as an observer in the governance bodies of CEN, CENELEC and ETSI and in the Technical Boards of CEN and CENELEC.

Moreover, we contribute to international standardisation through participation in around 25 Technical Committees and Working Groups of ISO or IEC, and are an observer in the ISO Consumer Policy Committee (ISO/COPOLCO).

At the technical level, each ANEC Working Group decides on the priorities in its fields and is responsible for developing a common position for its representatives to take to the technical bodies of the European Standardisation Organisations.

Isn't ANEC an 'anti-business' organisation?

Not at all. ANEC seeks to complement the business contribution in the development of standards. Knowingly or unknowingly, the proposals made by business interests in the standards development process can undermine the consumer interest, often by focusing on the needs of the mainstream (or ‘average’) consumer to the exclusion of ‘vulnerable consumers’: children, older people and people with disabilities. ANEC aims to shape standards so that all consumers can benefit from their application. One excellent example is that of the European Standards for Domestic Appliances (see the reports under the Accessibility and DOMAP sections).

We believe that an inclusive European standard, which reflects the requirements of Regulation (EU) 1025/2012, benefits not only European business and society in its use, but presents European business with advantage on the global stage. The inclusiveness of the European Standardisation System is unique, and goes beyond the provisions of the WTO TBT Code of Good Practice.

Isn't ANEC simply a 'puppet organisation' of the European Union and EFTA?

Perhaps to the disappointment of some EU and EFTA officials, no! Although the core mission of ANEC is funded exclusively by both institutions, both take care to recognise our independence. For example, our differences of opinion with the European Commission on the use of a ‘child panel test’ in the European Standard for cigarette lighters were well-known, and we remain highly critical of the lack of political will to introduce European legislation on the safety of services.

Is ANEC registered as a lobbyist?

Although ANEC is not a commercial lobbyist, acting on behalf of third parties, part of its mission is to shape the development or revision of European legislation in the consumer interest. Hence ANEC has signed the European Transparency Register (http://europa.eu/transparency-register/) and accepted its Code of Conduct. Our identification number in the Register is 507800799-30.

What are the conditions and benefits of becoming a member of an ANEC Working Group?

In order to fulfil its mission to raise standards of protection and welfare for all consumers, ANEC requires experts who are willing to participate in its Working Groups and, ideally, to represent ANEC in standards development work in its areas of priority: Accessibility, Child Safety, Digital Society, Domestic Appliances, Energy, Services, Sustainability, and Traffic & Mobility.

Although we are unable to offer a salary or honorarium, we do cover the travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses of our experts in line with the rules laid down by the European Commission and EFTA Secretariat. Above all, we offer the possibility to our experts to influence legislation and technical standards to the benefit of all those in society.

For more information, please contact the ANEC Secretariat.

What is the relationship between ANEC, BEUC, CI and ICRT?

ANEC has close links with BEUC, the European Consumers’ Organisation (www.beuc.eu), particularly on issues of product and service legislation. But the interests of BEUC are more horizontal than those of ANEC (ranging from child obesity to financial services, from mobile roaming charges to consumer redress). Our memberships also differ with BEUC comprising organisational members – sometimes with more than one member from one country – compared with the individual national memberships of ANEC.

Consumers International (CI) is a worldwide federation of consumer organisations with some 250 member organisations in 120 countries. Like BEUC, its scope is horizontal and it places particular emphasis on improving the welfare of consumers in developing countries. We have long worked with CI at ensuring the consumer voice is heard in international standardisation, and have a special collaboration in the drafting of automotive safety standards in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Over the years, we have also been partners with International Consumer Research & Testing (ICRT) in pursuing numerous technical studies.

In October 2016, ANEC, BEUC, CI and ICRT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU aims to deepen collaboration in order to multiply impact, prevent overlaps and secure further sources of income.

Does ANEC test products?

Although some ANEC members are from organisations involved in comparative testing, often through ICRT, ANEC itself does not have its own testing laboratories. ANEC does, however, commission Technical Studies to support its positions in the standardisation process.  You can find out more about these activities here.

What is CE marking?

In the European Economic Area, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to check whether his product falls under the scope of EU legislation. If it falls under the scope of certain directives, the affixing of CE Marking is obligatory. CE Marking is addressed to national authorities and declares that the product complies with the safety requirements of the respective EU legislation.

For most consumer products, the manufacturer can self-declare that the product is in conformity. Hence, in the view of ANEC, CE Marking represents no more than a claim by the manufacturer that the product is in compliance. You can find more information on our official position in the ANEC Position Paper on CE Marking ‘Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware’ and the ANEC Leaflet on CE Marking.