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What role do standards play in the lives of consumers?

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The DIN Consumer Council has published a brochure on the role of standards in consumers’ lives and the importance of consumer involvement in standardisation. The Council is a permanent member of the DIN Presidential Board. Founded in 1974, it works to represent German consumer interests in national, European and international standardisation.

Consumer protection is a basic market policy that strives to avoid imbalances between suppliers and consumers. It extends beyond safe products, high-level product performance and consumer-friendly services.

Protection is an essential part of what standardisation can achieve for consumers. Protection also comes in the form of access to information about products and services that are based on standards. This makes products and services measurable and comparable. Standardised product information serves as a self-help resource for the informed consumer. Naturally, this kind of information also has a strong impact on what consumers buy.

Beyond the relevant consumer protection laws and legislation, it is up to private standardisation bodies to lay down technical requirements for the assessment of the safety and performance of consumer goods. After all, these goods affect the lives of millions of people every day.

It is essential to involve consumer experts when these goods become subject to standardisation. The interaction between standardisation and legislation has not only become more intense, but also concerns an ever-growing number of products and services.

It is more important than ever that all interested parties – including the consumers – participate in standardisation. Who makes the rules for whom? Is there balanced stakeholder participation? Do manufacturers themselves make decisions on the standards that will specify requirements for their products? To solve these challenges, standardisation bodies ensure that all interested parties are included in a democratic, consensus-based act of self-regulation. To play a meaningful role in this process, the voice of consumer experts must be strong enough to be influential.

The DIN brochure can be found here.

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