The role we have in Europe

ETSI plays a key role in supporting regulation and legislation with technical standards and specifications. To do this we co-operate with other organizations including:

  • the European Commission (EC)
  • the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
  • the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)

Supporting European regulation & legislation

We are recognized by the European Union (EU) as one of the three official European Standards Organizations (ESO) under Regulation 1025/2012. Our work supports the policies of the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In particular we produce standards to support European regulation and legislation. These are defined in Regulations, Directives and Decisions developed by the EU.

Specifically, we produce Harmonised Standards (European Standards (ENs) with a special status). By adhering to these standards, manufacturers and service providers can claim ‘presumption of conformity’ with the essential requirements of a directive (by self-declaration). This saves them from having to go through costly type approval processes in different member states. Manufacturers can also then use the well-recognized CE marking for their products. This helps ensure the free movement of goods within the Single European Market. It also enables enterprises in the EU to be more competitive.

European Frequency Spectrums

We have designed a frequency chart showing the organization of European Frequency Spectrums based on data kindly provided by the European Communications Office (ECO).

Those frequencies are grouped by standards families (Aeronautical, Broadcasting, Fixed, Maritime…) and are represented by different colours. 2nd level applications for each standards family are listed in the chart starting within the Very Low Frequency band up to the Extremely High Frequency band.

Our committees ATTM, BRAN, DECT, ERM, MSG and SES produce Harmonised Standards.

The Harmonised Standards can be found in the pre-defined collections of our standards search (the ones cited in the Official Journal and the ones not yet cited there, e.g. HSs RED cited in OJ).

The EC and EFTA ask us to develop Harmonised Standards and to undertake other activities in ‘standardization requests’. Standardization requests are statements of policy which contain proposals for related standardization work. They often support legislative initiatives. About a fifth of all European Standards (ENs) are developed following a standardization request from the European Commission (EC)/European Free Trade Association (ETFA).

Standardization for EU competitiveness

Beginning of 2019 we have commissioned a report Calling the Shots: Standardization for EU Competitiveness in a Digital Era that calls on the EU to retake the global leadership in digital standard setting.

The report was drawn up by an independent panel of experts brought together by Kreab and led by Carl Bildt, the former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden. The panel gathered insights and experience from industry, politics and academia.

It is important that EU lawmakers put standardization at the centre of EU digital and industrial strategy. The release of the report is timed to coincide with the new five-year mandates of the European Commission and the European Parliament. It is designed to provide policy makers with essential information as they develop a new industrial strategy for the EU. 

The report reflects neither the official policy of ETSI, nor its governing bodies and members. It represents a realization by ETSI that the questions addressed in the report need to be considered as a matter of political priority, at a time of leadership transition in the European institutions.

Please see the report pdfCalling the shots.

The release of the Bildt report “Calling the shots” drew strong interest from the standardization community, and it was agreed to launch a Task Force to operationalize the recommendations of the report. The Task Force was hosted by ETSI and was open to all members and non-members interested in working collaboratively on turning the recommendations into concrete measures and actions. The Task Force worked at speed to deliver its proposals and credit for this should go to all participants, including CEN and CENELEC and their members who were, as ETSI, very keen to contribute to the debate on standardization for the digital era.

Please see the pdfreport of the task force.

Cooperation between the European Standards Organizations

We work in close cooperation with CEN and CENELEC, the other two European Standards Organizations (ESOs). Our work particularly focuses on matters that are the subject of an EC standardization request. Although the three ESOs deal with different sectors, we have common interests. Information Technology and telecommunications are converging. We need to coordinate our policies and our work programmes to avoid overlapping activities and to increase efficiency.

ETSI, CEN and CENELEC have had a joint cooperation agreement in place since 1990. This enables us to create joint technical committees to produce joint standards. These standards are then published by all three bodies.

We manage our coordination in the ‘Joint Presidents’ Group’. This is a forum for top-level agreements between the ESOs on matters of common policy.

Informal exchanges also take place between our technical committees through common members and experts. There are joint groups to coordinate activities.

In addition, the ESOs have Seconded European Standardization Experts working in India (the SESEI project) and China (the SESEC project). The aim is to promote cooperation with these countries on standards, related policies and regulation.

In December 2022, the three ESOs jointly with the EC and EFTA published the outcome of a joint Task Force. This TF was created to work together on short, medium and long term solutions to address strategic and operational matters that enables the European standardization system to deliver a green, digital and resilient Single Market.

Read the flyer here

Work with our National Standards Organizations

We work closely with the National Standards Organizations (NSOs) in the European countries.

In particular, all our ENs become the national standards of the different EU/EFTA member states. The NSOs are responsible for organizing the Public Enquiry in their respective country as part of the EN approval process. They also submit the national position (the ‘vote’) on the standard.

ETSI 3SI Programme

Societal stakeholders, SMEs and inclusiveness

We value the work of the four organizations (ANEC, ECOS, ETUC and SBS) recognized by the European Commission. These organizations represent societal stakeholders and SMEs in European standardization. They represent consumer, environmental and social interests. We have developed a specific programme to ensure their opinions are better heard: the  pdf3SI Programme.

3SI Advocate

The 3SI Advocate is a volunteer nominated by the ETSI Board. They are the point of contact for all matters related to societal and SME interests in ETSI standardization. The 3SI Advocate:

  • Is independent, impartial and neutral
  • Is available for all ETSI Members and chairs for support or issues on matters related to inclusiveness
  • Will receive opinions raised by the representatives of societal stakeholders and SMEs concerning adopted European Standards
  • Will take a view on these opinions and transmit this view and the opinions to the relevant ETSI committees
  • Will twice a year gather information from ETSI committee chairs about work items in progress that may be of particular relevance for societal stakeholders and SMEs. They then provide a list of such work items to the organizations representing societal stakeholders and SMEs, and to the ETSI Board
  • Will oversee the implementation of the ETSI long-term strategy objective on inclusiveness
  • May initiate proposals for further improvements regarding inclusiveness

3SI meeting

On a regular basis, ETSI organizes a high-level exchange on societal stakeholders, SMEs and inclusiveness.

This exchange involves:

  • representatives of the organizations representing societal stakeholders (ANEC, ECOS, ETUC and SBS)
  • the 3SI Advocate
  • ETSI management (Director General and chairs of the General Assembly and Board)
  • the European Commission
  • the EFTA Secretariat
  • other ETSI members or experts, as needed

This meeting provides a regular exchange to identify the needs of these organizations, discuss any critical issues and work towards effective ways of finding solutions.


ETSI, the essentials

See our related blogpost from Luis Jorge Romero, ETSI Director-General



At one level, what ETSI does is quite complicated. Pulling together multiple stakeholders in Europe and internationally to create standards for complex ICT products and services requires planning and multi-layered processes; fair, open and transparent decision making; and a deep understanding of both the technologies themselves and the requirements of consumers, industry and governments that use them.

Under this umbrella, we can proudly say that we provide an open and fair forum for experts and stakeholders to come together to make standards that support Europe’s competitiveness and societal values. We have been doing this for just over 30 years.

We have along the way adapted to the reality of globalization. Developing standards for ICT in isolation is not possible. Our success with mobile communications demonstrates that the best standards will inevitably, sooner or later, be adopted across the world.  ETSI’s standards allow European innovators to attain the critical mass to be able to compete on the world stage and to lead in the construction of the global digital over 900 members from 65 countries, facilitates the uptake of European innovation and technology well beyond the borders of our continent.economy.

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