What is the nature of European Standardization Organizations (ESOs) and of harmonized European standards? Are ESOs public or private bodies? Are harmonized standards established by such organizations an entrustment of public powers?
Standards are the prescriptions of the best way of doing things, are typically set by private parties and remain of strictly voluntary application. Also European harmonized standards, although recognized by EU legislation, seem to have a private nature, as they are non-binding and emanate from the ESOs, which are private bodies. However, such standards are a necessary implementation measure which is strictly governed by the essential requirements defined by a directive, and are initiated, managed and monitored by the Commission. Moreover, subject to prior publication of their reference in theOfficial Journal, they have certain legal effects, such as giving rise to the presumption of conformity with the essential requirements established by the directive.
As a consequence of the ‘public’ nature of harmonized European standardization deriving from the peculiar relationship between the ESOs and the Commission, and from the legal status and effects of harmonized standards, such standardization activities ought to follow certain procedures and to respect certain principles of administrative activity.Legal Issues of Economic Integration