How does ETSI make standards?

Consensus and transparency

ETSI’s standards-making process is based on consensus – agreement between our members – and on openness. Our members decide:

  • what to standardize
  • the timing and resourcing of the task
  • the approval of the final drafts

So the standards we produce truly respond to the needs of the ICT industry, as represented by our members.

The standards-making process

Drawing on 25 years of experience we have evolved a well proven standards-making process which ensures our standards are:

  • high quality
  • produced efficiently

ETSI is committed to producing top quality standards. You can read about how we do this in our pdfGuide to Writing World Class Standards.

We also operate editHelp, a dedicated service which provides practical aids for those drafting ETSI documents.

All our standards conform to our highly respected Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy, which balances the needs of standardization for public use with the rights of the owners of IPRs.

Making a start

A proposal to start an item of work, such as to create a new standard or to update an existing one, needs the agreement of just four members of ETSI. Our entire membership is given the opportunity to endorse the proposal, or to object to it if they so wish. This ensures that all of our work serves the broad ICT community.

Proposals may come from:

  • individual members of ETSI
  • the European Commission (EC) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

Who does the standardization work?

  • Technical committees or other types of working groups, made up of representatives of our members and led by a ‘Rapporteur’, draft most of our standards. Our members may participate in any committee and work activity (other than certain security-related work where participation is controlled by the ETSI Board). 
  • Specialist Task Forces (STFs)  can be set up to accelerate the work where there is an urgent need. STFs are groups of technical experts who come together for a defined period to work intensively on specific items.
  • Industry Specification Groups (ISGs) offer an effective alternative to industry fora. They can be set up quickly to address specific technology areas.

Fair and visible approval processes

Depending on the type of document, it will be approved by either:

  • the participants in the relevant committee or
  • the entire ETSI membership

(In the case of European Standards, the European National Standards Organizations then give the final approval.)

We provide a range of web-based approval mechanisms, to make this a highly pragmatic and visible process.


The approved standard is published by the ETSI Secretariat, our permanent staff based at our headquarters. The Secretariat works closely with those drafting the document and is responsible for ensuring that the relevant procedures have been followed. This helps to guarantee the high quality of the final document.