Over 90% of British standards have their origins in international work, where UK experts (nominated via BSI’s technical committees) discuss and agree the content of the standards in their sectors with their international peers.
These international groups of experts form technical committees who develop standards, often known as international (ISO or IEC) or European (EN) standards.
The reason for this strong international focus reflects the reality of business life and consumer expectations today: where possibly, firms like to work to internationally (and preferably globally) agreed good practice for their products and services. Standards are voluntary, but they present an opportunity to ease international trade.
BSI is the UK’s national member of the international standards organizations ISO and IEC, and their European counterparts CEN and CENELEC. It is also a member of a third European Standardization Organization, ETSI, alongside industry bodies and companies.
ISO and CEN are generalist in their approach and work across multiple sectors, including construction, management systems, environmental issues and manufacturing. IEC and CENELEC exist to promote electrotechnical standardization, such as wiring and white goods. ETSI’s focus is on telecommunications.
ISO and IEC draw their membership from national standards bodies around the globe, with one member per country. CEN and CENELEC consist of 34 national members each, centred on Europe. All are independent, and BSI is the UK’s member of each. As the UK’s national member, BSI works to ensure UK expert voices are represented in technical committees across all four organizations.
In common with the other 33-member bodies of CEN and CENELEC, BSI adopts all European standards (ENs) as British standards; it also adopts most international standards produced by ISO and IEC. There are cooperation agreements between ISO and CEN and between IEC and CENELEC to promote co-development of standards at both international and European levels.