Who in Switzerland is actually responsible for the standards?

SNV - Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung (Swiss Standards Association)

The Swiss Standards Association (abbreviated SNV, French Association Suisse de Normalisation) is the Swiss national standards organisation based in Winterthur. It represents Swiss interests in European and international standardisation.

The SNV enables standards to be set
As an information hub and independent competence centre, the SNV ensures efficient access to national and international standards. It enables and promotes the development and harmonisation of new standards using the active influence of its expert members from national and international standards bodies.

The SNV is a full member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). In this way, the SNV ensures international cooperation in standardisation. This institution is the Swiss equivalent of the Austrian Standards Institute (ASI), formally the Österreichisches Normungsinstitut, which issues ÖNORMen; it is also comparable with the German standards institute Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN).
By 2019, more than 700 companies and institutions were members of the SNV, and of the almost 29’000 SNV standards, more than 28’000 were national adoptions of European Standards  (EN)

Bottom-up principle – users write for users
Standards are not developed by the legislator, an authority or a state regulator, but by the interested parties themselves. Anyone interested in the subject can participate in the work of the standards committees and contribute their specialist knowledge. To ensure that the market accepts the standards produced, the SNV strives for the broadest possible participation in the standardisation process and tries to involve a large number of stakeholders in the standardisation process, for example:

  • Manufacturers and producers
  • Retailers
  • Universities, research and scientific institutions
  • Clubs
  • NGOs
  • Authorities and local government
  • Consumers
What do standards regulate?

Standards usually work in the background and regulate a wide variety of tangible and intangible objects such as products, processes, measuring methods and services and are used in almost all industries and fields.

Domestic market, EU internal market or world market?

All standards have an alphanumeric designation in front of the standard number. This designation indicates the origin of a standard and the level at which it is recognised. A distinction is made between national, European and international standards. National standards regulate the Swiss domestic market, European standards open up access to the EU Single Market and international standards open up access to the world market. The market that is harmonised by a standard is indicated by the prefix of the standard number (SN, EN or ISO).

  • SN
    Swiss standard of predominantly national importance
    For example: SN 10130 “Business letter”

  • EN or SN EN
    European standard or Swiss edition of a European standard which has been adopted unchanged by all members of one of the European standardisation organisations CEN, CENELEC or ETSI
    For example: EN 179 „emergency exit“, EN 1125 „Escape doors full panic“, EN 13637 „electrically controlled escape door systems for doors in escape routes“.
  • ISO or SN EN ISO
    International standard or Swiss edition of a European standard which is identical to an international standard and has been adopted unchanged by all members of one of the European standardisation organisations CEN, CENELEC or ETSI.
    For example: SN EN ISO 9001 “Quality management systems – requirements"
Are standards also laws?

The use of standards is voluntary. Standards only become binding if they are the subject of contracts between parties or if compliance with them is mandatory under law. Although standards are not laws, they nevertheless contribute to legal security. Standards are regarded as clear and recognised rules of technology, and compliance with standards is an important step in demonstrating proper conduct.

The advantages of standards at a glance

Standards define interfaces and compatibility requirements
In today’s networked world, clearly defined interfaces and compatibility between individual components and systems are more important than ever. In the age of Industry 4.0, cross-border suppliers in particular must ensure that they continue to meet the operational requirements of the companies they supply. Anyone who disregards standards can quickly be excluded from the market.

Standards facilitate market access
Standards as the worldwide language of technology reduce technical barriers to trade and facilitate the free movement of goods. Standards open doors and increase exports: European standards (EN) open access to the EU internal market, international standards (ISO) to the world market. In Europe today, the following principle applies to goods: one standard – one test – accepted everywhere.

Standards reduce product liability risk
Standards provide clarity about the properties of a product and are regarded as clear and recognised rules of technology. In contracts, the reference to standards provides increased legal certainty. In addition, laws, ordinances and regulations on state-of-the-art technology increasingly refer to national, European or international standards.

Source: Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung ~ Swiss Standards Association (SNV), www.snv.ch