Harmonised standards

A harmonised standard is a standard adopted by one of the European standardisation bodies on the basis of a request from the European Commission. The request, which is called a mandate, contains a description of the areas that the standard must cover.

Harmonised standards are not mandatory until they have been approved by the European Commission and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. 

Harmonised standards give precise descriptions of how the overall requirements of an EU directive or an EU regulation can be met.   Harmonised standards are based on the same template as other standards, but are slightly different because of an annex called Annex ZA. The intention is to achieve optimal order in a given context, for example the manufacture of construction products

It should be noted that the European Commission has initiated work that may lead to a revision of the Construction Products Regulation.

Harmonised standards are particularly important in the building and construction sector, as their use is mandatory for manufacturers. The harmonised standards cover aspects such as testing, calculation and other methods set out in harmonised standards and European Assessment Documents (EADs) with a view to assessing performance in terms of the most important characteristics of construction products.

The requirements applied by member states in building and construction legislation, as well as other national rules and regulations concerning the essential characteristics of construction products, must conform to harmonised technical specifications in the form of harmonised standards or EADs. Harmonised standards thus define the methods and criteria to be applied in assessing a building product’s performance in terms of essential properties.

If it is stated in the relevant mandate, the harmonised standard must refer to the intended use of the products covered by it.

The European standardisation bodies also use harmonised standards to define minimum requirements for manufacturers’ own production control, which must take special conditions applying to the manufacturing of the construction products in question into account.

A harmonised standard must contain the technical details that are necessary to assess and verify constancy of performance.

The Construction Products Regulation sets out a system to be used to assess and verify conformity, called Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP). The AVCP system must be used as part of manufacturers’ documentation of their product’s compliance with the CPR’s fundamental requirements concerning product performance.

When harmonised standards have been prepared by a standardisation body, the European Commission assesses whether they are in conformity with the relevant mandates.

In principle, harmonised standards are based on the same template as other standards, a small difference being Annex ZA. In this annex, the European Commission states which parts of the standard relate to the Construction Products Regulation. The annex also contains information on matters such as the performance to be declared and states whether certification of the enterprise is required. Once this is established, the paragraphs in the standard to which Annex ZA refers should be read. 

Annex ZA appears at the end of each standard, but it would be useful to read it immediately after the introductory section about the scope of the standard, as it states which parts of the standard must be met to comply with applicable legislation in the area concerned.

By preparing the Declaration of Performance the manufacturer warrants that the construction product meets the declared performance. If there is no objective information to the contrary, member states will assume that the Declaration of Performance prepared by the manufacturer is accurate and reliable,

The European Commission estimates that, at present, harmonised standards cover 75-80 per cent of all construction products. This means that 20-25 per cent of construction products may not be CE marked, unless a specific ETA has been issued for them.

Standards are harmonised after their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ/EUOJ). Harmonisation makes a standard or parts of it binding. It should be noted that it is the version of the standard published in the Official Journal that is valid.