How we work

Organization of our technical work

Most of our standardization work is carried out in committees. The members of these committees are technical experts from our member companies and organizations. They meet typically between two and six times a year, either on ETSI premises or elsewhere.

We use a range of different types of committees for different tasks.

The ETSI Directives explain the rules under which our different committees operate. This set of documents defines the legal status, purpose, scope, and functions of ETSI and covers the entire lifecycle of our standards.

The ETSI Secretariat provides a range of support services to our committees.

Committee membership

ETSI members are entitled to a range of benefits including the right to participate in the work of our committees. All members have access to all committee working documents (apart from in a few specialized circumstances).

We provide support to our members so that they can make the most of their participation in our work.


Our committees are co-ordinated by our Operational Co-ordination Group (OCG) - see ETSI Portal - which includes the chairmen of all our technical committees. Ultimately the committees are accountable to the ETSI Board and the General Assembly.

Work programmes and output

  • Our members decide what work we do and we try to make it as easy as possible to start a new activity.
  • Each committee establishes and maintains a work programme which is made up of individual items of work. Collectively, the work programmes of all our committees constitute the ETSI Work Programme.
  • Each ‘Work Item’ describes a specific standardization task and normally results in a single standard, report or other document. We produce different types of document to meet different needs within the industries we serve.

The standards-making process

Our standards-making process has been refined over many years. One of the main aims of standardization is to enable interoperability in a multi-vendor, multi-network, multi-service environment. Our standards are therefore designed for interoperability from the very beginning and testing is a key part of the standardization process. As a result, our standards are consistently of a very high quality and are adopted all over the world.

Approval processes vary according to the type of standard.

We have adopted an ‘open’ approach, both in the way we create our standards and also the way our members contribute.

  • We operate by direct participation – our members are not represented by a national delegation or other body. So our members (companies or organizations) choose for themselves what contributions and proposals to make.
  • We work by consensus – any member may voice an opinion. Large and small member companies work side by side, in partnership, to achieve the best possible standards.


Sustainability is a significant factor both in what we do and the way we do it. For example, we have pioneered the use of electronic working methods to minimize cost and maximize efficiency.