Home > Core activities > Standardization > Organization of the French standardization system
Standardization and its promotion are ensured by AFNOR and the bodies appointed by AFNOR and approved by the minister responsible for industry as Sector-based Standardization Bureaux. As the central coordinator of standardization in France, AFNOR conducts a census of standard requirements and mobilizes the interested parties. It promotes French stances at the European and international levels. It organizes a public consultation in French for each draft French, European or international standard, certifies the final version and integrates it into the national catalogue. It permanently ensures that the standards published remain pertinent.
Standards are drafted by the Sector-based Standardization Bureaux (BNS) appointed by AFNOR, or by AFNOR itself in areas common to a large number of sectors or in sectors for which there is no approved BNS.
Thanks to its expertise acquired through its knowledge of the European and international standardization mechanisms, AFNOR also offers bespoke services to assess feasibility and implementation.
AFNOR is responsible for a task for the common good of focusing and coordinating all standards work for the French standardization system. Comprising AFNOR and sector-based standardization bureaux, the French standardization system is structured into large standardization programmes. This is all coordinated by the Standardization Coordination and Steering Committee (CCPN). Each programme is led by a Strategy Committee (CoS) bringing together the leading agenda-setters in the economic sector concerned. The CoS Strategy Committees are responsible for identifying new areas for standardization and setting the priorities of the standardization commissions. AFNOR prepares and applies the French standardization strategy and has a general task of listing, identifying and programming needs for new standards at the national, European and international level.
Today, 90% of the standards drafted by AFNOR are of European or international origin. In support of technical structures, AFNOR represents, promotes and defends French interests in the European (CEN Technical Board) and international (ISO Technical Management Board) standardization steering policy bodies and permanently sits on the governing bodies of the international organization. It owes this position to the importance of the responsibilities assumed in the management of standards work. This strong presence at the European and international decision-making levels enables AFNOR to effectively defend French interests at the European and world levels. AFNOR also contributes to the application of Directive 98/34/EC which establishes for European Union member states the obligation to inform their European partners of their national draft technical regulations or standards. The aim is to encourage the harmonization of drafts at European level and to not create barriers to international trade.
The experts in the standardization commission draw up the draft standard, in consultation with their counterparts from the other countries concerned in the case of European or international drafts. This work, the fruit of a consensus, is translated, validated and submitted to a CEN/CENELEC enquiry. At this stage, everyone can have their say and make suggestions for improvement. All comments are analysed during a meeting to which the contributors are invited. AFNOR will defend the French stances thus defined at the European and/or international level when preparing the final version of the standard. Almost 2,000 CEN/CENELEC enquiries on draft standards are held each year.
Certification is pronounced by AFNOR for documents with standard status. Their certification as French standards is attested to according to the level at which they were drafted by prefixes such as "NF ISO" (international standard applied in France), "NF EN ISO" (French standard of international origin applied in Europe and France), "NF EN" (French standard of European origin) and "NF" (purely French standard). The standards are published by AFNOR.
In order to provide a collection of consistent and up-to-date standards and thus take account of changes to markets, practices, technologies and regulations or remedy any difficulties in application, AFNOR and the sector-based standardization bureaux regularly conduct an assessment of the standards with a view to their confirmation, revision or cancellation.
In addition to this consultation process, which is accessible to all on our website, all those who buy standards may respond to a questionnaire for each standard, designed to gather their opinions and contributions. This feedback is addressed to the members of the standardization commissions.
Standards and reference documents are drafted by the Sector-based Standardization Bureaux or by AFNOR in areas common to a large number of sectors and in sectors for which there is no approved Sector-based Standardization Bureau. AFNOR, like the Sector-based Standardization Bureaux, mobilizes the most competent interlocutors within the standardization commissions, upstream and downstream of the production of a standard, to precisely identify the best practice in the manufacture of an object, the organization of a process or even the provision of a service. The standardization commissions are the best place to detect emerging themes and integrate a network of influential stakeholders. Involved in international bodies, AFNOR alerts them to changes to standardization programmes and thus enables them to anticipate changes to their sectors.
AFNOR Standardization offers specific services based on its expertise acquired through its knowledge of the European and international standardization mechanisms. As such, its teams offer feasibility studies to assess the political acceptability and feasibility of a standardization project, whether on the French, European or international level. AFNOR Standardization also offers to write reference documents specifically suited to the needs and practices of organizations, which represent the first level of consensus in their business sector and can be the first step towards drafting a standard. AFNOR Standardization also convenes Regional Exchange Platforms, sites open to all organizations in a region to enable them to anticipate the requirements of future standards by benefitting upstream from privileged information on changes to content.