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Terms of Reference for national Standardization Groups

The Terms of Reference for national Standardization Groups is consistent with Annex 4 of SFS Guide 5 'National working procedure for European and International Standards and other deliverables'.

1 Purpose and scope

Standardization Groups act as national expert groups on standardization in their sector. The purpose of a Standardization Group is to monitor international or European standardization and to represent the views of Finnish stakeholders. The Standardization Group’s scope is identical to that of CEN or ISO committees in the Standardization Group’s field. When need arises, the Standardization Group also develops and maintains Finnish SFS standards relevant to its sector. The Standardization Group is responsible for national decisions on developing standards relevant to its sector.

The Terms of Reference for national Standardization Groups complement the guidelines provided in SFS Guides 4 and 5. If the Standardization Group develops Finnish SFS Standards, the terms of reference given in SFS Guide 4, Annex 3, shall be observed.

2 General principles

The Standardization Group shall take into account the principles of competition legislation. CEN-CLC Guide 31 ‘Competition law for participants in CEN-CENELEC activities’ contains guidance on competition legislation (Annex 2 to SFS Guide 5). In meetings of Standardization Groups, no information shall be exchanged that can be considered to be disclosing trade secrets or affecting the pricing or market behaviour of the companies involved.

In addition, it is important to follow these procedures:

  • Agenda is accepted as the order of business for the meeting, and it is followed.
  • Agenda does not contain any forbidden topics.
  • Confidential information is not discussed in the meetings.
  • If discussion shifts to forbidden topics, it must be ceased immediately. This obligation concerns all participants.
  • The names of participants and discussed topics are recorded in the minutes.
  • It is important to remember that competition legislation has to be followed in both formal and informal conversations.

If there is any ambiguity on the legality of any actions, legal advice shall be sought before performing said actions.

Having joined a Standardization Group, the member transfers copyrights on the contents of any draft standards that are developed in European or international standards organisations to CEN/CENELEC or ISO/IEC (depending on which organisation is responsible for the standard).

Standardization Groups shall follow CEN-CLC and ISO Codes of conduct on technical work (Annex 1 to SFS Guide 5) in their activities.

3 Tasks of a national Standardization Group

Tasks of a national Standardization Group include

  • monitoring European and international standardization in the sector concerned and influencing the contents of standards;
  • promoting participation of Finnish stakeholders in European and/or international standardizati
  • formulating Finnish positions to ballots and deciding on Finnish comments on draft standards;
  • confirming or cancelling the nomination of experts to working groups;
  • appointing delegates to represent Finland in European or international committee meetings;
  • taking into account the policies of the UN, WTO and EU in accordance with CEN and ISO guidelines;
  • assessing the need to adopt ISO standards as national SFS standards;
  • assessing the need for Finnish translations of European and/or International Standards and participating in the review process of translations where necessary;
  • raising awareness of standards and promoting their use;
  • developing and maintaining Finnish standards, as appropriate;
  • monitoring whether there are Finnish standards relevant to the sector of the Standardization Group that create technical barriers to trade, and withdrawing them where necessary, unless there is a special need to develop and maintain Finnish standards; and
  • evaluating the need for handbooks and other publications.

4 Membership of a national Standardization Group

Anyone interested in following standardization in the sector of the group and influencing the content of standards may join a Standardization Group. The aim is for the Standardization Group to include all the relevant stakeholders that benefit from standardization or have substantial interests at stake. Composition of the Standardization Group is reviewed if needed. Representatives of different stakeholders and experts in different fields can be asked to join meetings of the Standardization Group should need arise.

New members can join the working group by filling in a membership agreement form provided by the standards writing body in question and paying any annual participation fee. Details on any participation fee concerning a Standardization Group are provided by the responsible standards writing body. If a group member cannot be reached, the standards writing body removes them from the group member list. The member list is reviewed at least every 3 years.

Membership in a Standardization Group is automatically renewed each year unless the member notifies SFS of resigning their membership by the end of the year.

The standards writing body maintains a membership register of Standardization Group members and the member bodies (organisations) and stakeholders they represent. Members of a Standardization Group shall immediately inform the Secretary of the Standardization Group of all changes related to their membership, such as the member body that they represent. The Secretary will make these changes to the membership register.

Information of member bodies as well as the contact information of group chairs and secretaries is public. In addition, the National Documents platform, accessible to the members only, contains the Standardization Group members’ email addresses.

Membership in the Standardization Group can be immediately terminated by the standards writing body if the member has failed to fulfil the requirements they committed to when joining the group or has violated these Terms of Reference. If the same person should apply for membership again, the standards writing body may disregard the application whenever the standard in question is being revised or for a period of two years. The decision can be appealed to the Technical Board on Standardization.

5 Organising the Standardization Group

5.1 The Chair

The Standardization Group shall elect the chair from amongst its members. The term of office for the chair and any vice chair is three years. There is no limit to the number of consecutive terms of office for the chair. However, after three terms, the same person may continue as the chair only when there are no other candidates. The chair can also be elected for every meeting.

The chair shall lead the meeting fairly and impartially. The chair must take into account the ISO Codes of Conduct for the technical work that are presented in Annex 1. The chair’s role is to lead the discussion in order for the group to achieve a wide-ranging view and national consensus.

5.2 The Secretary

The secretary of the Standardization Group is provided by the standards writing body. The secretary coordinates the Standardization Group and manages the development of draft European, International and Finnish SFS Standards according to the guidance given in SFS Guides 4 and 5.

The secretary has an impartial and neutral role. The secretary must ensure that the group follows the SFS Guides. The secretary cannot vote.

5.3 Working Groups

The Standardization Group may establish Working Groups for different matters and it may consult experts.

6 Distribution of materials of the national Standardization Group

Each national Standardization Group has its own extranet site containing all the standardization material relevant to the sector of the group. These materials include:

  • agendas and minutes of the meetings of the national Standardization Group;
  • working documents of European and international committees (e.g. N documents);
  • documents and ballots (e.g. CIB) needed for formulating national positions;
  • draft standards at the enquiry and approval stages; and
  • reports on meetings.

Materials on the extranet site of the Standardization Group shall not be distributed outside the national group unless it is for the purpose of requesting comments from colleagues in the member’s organization. Only the members of the Standardization Group have access to the extranet site of the national group, and the site may only be used for purposes of standardization.

National materials on the Standardization Group’s extranet site are stored for at least five years.

The public website of the standards writing body contains information on the scopes of national Standardization Groups and on the European and international technical committees that the national Standardization Groups are monitoring.

7 Meetings and decision-making

7.1 Meetings

The Standardization Group decides how often and in which manner it convenes and what issues it discusses at the meetings apart from European, international and Finnish standardization.

The Standardization Group uses the existing electronic voting tools for preparing national positions in order to confirm the identity of the voters in a secure way.

The Secretary keeps minutes of the Standardization Group meetings. The minutes should include at least the date of the meeting, the names of the participants, the issues covered and the decisions made. All resolutions (including electronic resolutions) shall be traceable. If unable to attend a meeting, a member may present a written opinion on the matter beforehand while informing the secretary of their absence. A member can, in advance and in writing, also authorise another member of the Standardization Group to vote in their stead or appoint a proxy from their own organization to a single meeting of the Standardization Group.

The aim is to make decisions and take positions by consensus. If a consensus cannot be achieved, decisions of the standardization group are made by majority vote with each member body of the Standardization Group having one vote. ‘Member body’ here refers to the organisation that the member represents. If votes are divided equally, the national position will be ‘abstain’. The group may also continue seeking consensus. At the meetings, the votes of members present are counted, as well as votes from absent members submitted in written form.

7.2 Processing the comments

Based on the comments received, the statements regarding Finnish position shall be drawn up by the Secretary of the Standardization Group. The national Standardization Group shall confirm these statements. The Standardization Group shall settle any disputes by utilising online systems or calling a meeting.

8 Participating in European and international working groups and standardization meetings

Delegates taking part in European and international meetings shall adhere to the procedures presented in SFS Guide 5.

The national Standardization Group decides who to appoint as delegates to European and international technical committee and subcommittee meetings. Delegates appointed to European and international TC and SC meetings and experts appointed to working groups shall be members of the Standardization Group. Only individuals appointed by the standards writing body may participate in meetings.

National delegates shall represent Finland when taking positions and expressing views in European and international administrative meetings (TC, SC and PC). They shall adhere to the policy adopted in the national standardization group. If Finland’s position differs from the outcome of the meeting in matters of great importance to Finland, national delegates shall request that Finland’s differing opinion, as formulated in the national standardization group, be entered in the minutes of the European or international meeting. Experts appointed to attend the WGs shall represent the views of their own support groups and stakeholders. However, experts appointed to working groups shall clearly separate their personal views and opinions from positions taken in a national standardization group in all conversations and in all their comments in all stages of preparing a standard. Experts shall be aware of Finnish legislation on the field in question, keeping the WG informed where necessary.

If the draft standard is mandatory by virtue of legislation, delegates are bound by the decisions and positions taken in national standardization groups.

Appointed delegates and experts shall follow instructions given by SFS and the standards writing body in order to be able to act as a delegate or an expert. If the appointed person acts in a manner inconsistent with the Standardization Group’s Terms of Reference and/or SFS Guide 5, the appointment terminates immediately. If the same person asks to be nominated again, the request shall not be discussed in the Standardization Group while the standard or other deliverable is still under preparation or revision in the TC/SC/WG in question.

Delegates that have taken part in committee (TC) or subcommittee (SC) meetings shall present their report to the national Standardization Group. The standards writing body may require that delegates submit a written report. If the delegate has received financial compensation for travel costs from SFS or the standards writing body, the delegate has to prepare a written report. This applies also to any expert taking part in a WG meeting if they have received financial compensation from SFS or a standards writing body. The report shall include the name of the committee or working group, the date and location of the meeting, participants from Finland and the subject of the meeting. Furthermore, the report shall evaluate the achievement of set objectives and benefits gained as well as subsequent actions in Finland. Where appropriate, the standards writing body shall give more detailed instructions on writing meeting reports.

Standards and draft standards as well as material used in their development are protected by the Copyright Act (404/1961). Standardization Groups comply with IPR legislation in force at the time as well as guidelines on standardization that apply to the use of intellectual property rights.

The member of the working group transfers the copyright to the content of draft standards to CEN/CENELEC or ISO/IEC (depending on which organisation is responsible for the standard), including the right to alter the work and to further transfer and license the related rights.

According to ISO Directives and the Internal Regulations of CEN, Standardization Groups have the right to use and copy International Standards and their translations to the extent and in the manner required by standardization activities (and also to the disposal of their subgroups and experts) and to translate International Standards in the scope of the Standardization Group without a separate permission. Members of the Standardization Group may use such material for standardization purposes only. However, a member may use draft standards received in the role of a Standardization Group member during or after the enquiry stage in the member’s own publications, such as academic studies and theses.

Members of Standardization Groups shall inform the standards writing body about any patents and intellectual property rights related to work items in the Standardization Group of which they are aware. Any patent declarations are addressed according to CEN-CENELEC Guide 8.

10 Processing of complaints

The standards writing body responds to written complaints about standardization activities (including the handling of comments) by sending a written response to the complainant. The standards writing body shall keep record of complaints and the way they were processed. If SFS receives a complaint about the actions of a standards writing body, it shall send the complaint to the standards writing body, which shall process the complaint and respond to it.