Standards are agreements made and recorded by stakeholders, such as entrepreneurs, producers, suppliers, manufacturers and end users. However, the government, consumer organisations or research organisations also often contribute to their formation. Such agreements relate to products, processes and services: ‘best practices’ in fact.
Standards are not mandatory, but can be applied on a voluntary basis. Users of standards can buy the standards from NEN.
Sometimes legislation makes reference to standards. If you then apply that standard, you know you are complying with legal requirements. It’s easy and convenient: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But if you can and want to comply with the law in another way, you may. This applies to most of the standards referred to in the Buildings Decree.
When we refer to standards with a mandatory reference, there are two variants.
Variant 1: The legislation makes a mandatory reference to a standard. The legislator wants this standard to be applied. You are therefore obliged to comply with the standard.
Variant 2: We also refer to a mandatory reference if the legislation refers to a standard, but you are permitted to make use of a different solution as long as it is at least equivalent to the standard. The standard must be able to be consulted to be able to verify this.
The Dutch Cabinet has notified the Dutch House of Representatives that national standards (NEN standards) to which legislation and regulations make a mandatory reference must be made freely available. This means that the user of the standard does not need to pay for the standard to be able to consult it. The Ministries pay an annual fee to NEN for this purpose, since copyright on the standards continues to be held by NEN. This agreement will apply for at least the next five years. The standards with a mandatory reference will be made freely available online via NEN Connect as of 1 January 2016.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Security and Justice in the Netherlands have established which NEN standards will have a mandatory reference in their legislation and have decided that this reference must remain mandatory. These are mainly environmental standards, a small number of building standards and ‘safety standards’. The list can be found on the Dutch Government’s website.
Read more about viewing these standards or how to create an account on NEN Connect.