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Terms of Reference for the SFS Standardization Groups

All participants in SFS Standardization Groups must adhere to these Terms of Reference.

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 and 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 supplement the guidance given in SFS Guide 4 (The working procedure and structure of Finnish SFS standards) and SFS Guide 5 (The national working procedure for European and International Standards and other deliverables). 

2 General principles

The Standardization Group shall take into account the principles of competition legislation. Guidance on competition legislation is given in CEN-CLC Guide 31 ‘Competition law for participants in CEN-CENELEC activities’ (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. 

When joining 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. No transfer of copyright shall take place if the content relating to copyrighted material is not included in the finished 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 in European and international standardization; 
  • 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; 
  • assessing the need to adopt ISO standards as national SFS standards; 
  • assessing the need for Finnish translations of European and 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 Standardization Group by filling in a membership agreement form. The costs of managing the secretarial duties of the Standardization Group are covered by charging an annual participation fee from the members or by funding from other parties.

Information on the participation fees of the different Standardization Groups can be found on the SFS website.

SFS reviews the funding needs of Standardization Groups annually.

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. 

SFS 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 on the members and their organisations is public.

5 Organising the Standardization Group

5.1 The Chair

The Standardization Group shall elect the Chair from amongst its members for a three-year term. The Standardization Group may select a vice-chair from amongst its members.

The Chair shall lead the meeting and be fair and impartial. 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 SFS. The Secretary coordinates the Standardization Group and manages the development of European, international and Finnish draft standards according to the guidance given in SFS Guides 4 and 5. 

The Secretary has an impartial and neutral role. 

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 needed for formulating national positions;
  • draft standards at the enquiry and approval stages; and 
  • reports on meetings. 

Working documents of European and international committees on the Standardization Group’s extranet site are protected by Copyright Act (404/1961). No such material shall be shared with anyone outside the Standardization Group unless it is for the purpose of requesting comments from colleagues in the member’s organization. Only members of the Standardization Group have access to the extranet site of the Standardization Group. Members of the Standardization Group may use such material for standardization purposes only. 

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

The public website of SFS 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. Meetings can be physical meetings, or they can be held virtually. 

The Standardization Group uses the existing electronic voting tools for preparing national positions. 

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 may, 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. 

The aim is to make decisions and take positions by consensus. If a consensus cannot be achieved, the decisions of the Standardization Group are made by majority vote with each member body 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 position is confirmed by the Standardization Group where appropriate. 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 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 SFS 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 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 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. If the delegate has received financial compensation for travel costs from SFS, 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. 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.

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. 

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 Group without a separate permission in the framework of the ISO Directives and CEN Internal Regulations. 

Members of standardization groups shall inform SFS 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

SFS responds to written complaints about standardization activities (including the handling of comments) by sending a written response to the complainant. SFS shall keep record of complaints and the way they were processed.