HISTORY OF NATIONAL STANDARDIZATION

1919 - 1939

Technical standardization was organized at a national level in the early 1920s.

  • The first nationwide association was the Czechoslovak Electrotechnical Association (ESC) founded in 1919. A year later it issued its first collection of ESC regulations and standards. Czechoslovak electrotechnical standards played an important role in the development of the electrotechnical industry, companies and businesses by creating a generally recognized technical basis for production and inspection activities.
  • In 1922 a nationwide association for general standardization (CSN) was set up with the status of a public-benefit non-profit organization. This association comprised production companies, professional associations, commercial organizations and the like. Members paid membership contributions and took part in association activities in accordance with their interests and at their own expense. Draft technical standards were drawn up by specialists from industrial concerns, research establishments, institutes of higher education and the like.

Czechoslovak standards were voluntary but they had unchallenged authority thanks to their high technical quality and the elaborate standardization involved. They formed a solid basis for the regulations of professional associations, they were widely used in tenders for public orders and they were used to a great extent in the insurance industry.
CSN was one of the initiators of an international federation of standards organizations, which was established in Prague in 1928 under the name of the International Standards Association (ISA).

1945 – 1992

  • After the war, ESC and CSN activities were resumed for a short time.
  • In 1951 the federal standardization system was terminated along with ESCs and CSNs. The management of technical standards was taken over by the state through the newly established Standards Office.
  • In 1992 the Federal Office for Standardization and Measurement was closed down as the Czechoslovak Federation was dissolved.
  • After technical standardization was incorporated into state administration, the character of technical standards changed. Voluntary standards became state standards, which were binding under the law. In the absence of market principles, their new role was
  • to regulate the quality of the products of nationalized industry,
  • later on, to replace legal regulations on safety at work.
  • Despite this fundamental change, Czechoslovakia remained a recognized member of the international standards organizations ISO and IEC and continued its active participation in the development of international standards. Its representatives sat on the ISO Council and the IEC Action Committee several times and Prague hosted a number of important events, e.g.
    • the IEC General Assembly in 1967 and 1987,
    • the ISO General Assembly in 1988.
  • When first the Czechoslovak Federation and then the Czech Republic signed an association agreement with the EU, this marked a turning point in the orientation of technical standardization after 1989. It entailed a commitment to adopt European standards in the national system and at the same time to withdraw provisions of national standards which are in contradiction with them. In addition to the European standards, associated international standards are also adopted into the Czech system, while the development of national standards is limited to the essential minimum. It is the aim of standardization to support the market economy and to harmonize national legislation with European legislation and to remove technical barriers to trade.
  • The new legal arrangements for standardization as set out in Act No. 142/1991 Coll., on Czechoslovak Technical Standards, as amended by Act No. 632/1992 Coll. define technical standards basically as voluntary documents. The only exception to this is the provision that any binding aspects are determined on the basis of the requirements of a state administration body with authority to issue generally binding regulations for the area in question.

1993 – 2000

  • The Act terminated the validity of branch standards as of 31.12.1993 and the binding character of Czechoslovak state standards (approved before Act No. 142/1991 Coll.) as of 31.12.1994.
  • When the Czech Republic came into being in 1993, the division of powers and the organizational arrangements for national standards changed. Protection of state and public interests with regard to technical standards is provided by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) through the Czech Office for Standards, Metrology and Testing (ÚNMZ), which is a state administration body. The actual activity associated in general with the development and publication of technical standards is performed by the Czech Standards Institute.
  • The need to harmonize Czech and European legislation on technical regulations led in the mid-1990s to the drafting of a bill to jointly deal with the issues surrounding the adoption of technical regulations, compliance assessment procedures, technical standardization and accreditation. Act No. 22/1997 Coll., on technical requirements for products, allowed for the transfer of membership in international and European standards organizations from the Czech Office for Standards, Metrology and Testing to the Czech Standards Institute, which under a ruling of the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued in accordance with the above Act becomes an organization authorized to develop and publish standards. In 1997, after meeting all conditions, the Czech Office for Standards, Metrology and Testing had gained full membership in the European standards organizations CEN and CENELEC.
  • The Czech Standards Institute organized a number of important international meeting:
    • the CEN General Assembly in 1999,
    • the CENELEC General Assembly in 2000,
  • In 1999 and 2000, the Czech Republic was represented by the Czech Standards Institute at the ISO Council.
  • In 2000 the CSN –TEST Czech technical standard compliance mark was brought onto the market

2001 - 2008

The start of the new century saw some important events involving technical standards and the Czech Standards Institute.

  • 2001 saw the historical first ISO Networking Conference in Prague.
  • In 2001, on the basis of certification audit results, the Czech Standards Institute was awarded a certificate confirming the compliance of its quality management system with the requirements of the ISO 9001:1994 standard on the standard development process.
  • In 2002 we commemorated the 80th anniversary of the establishment of standardization in Czechoslovakia with a gala evening at the Rudolfinum attended by Minister of Industry and Trade Jiří Rusnok, representatives of prominent Czech organizations and companies and leading representatives of international, European and national standards organizations. It was here that a tradition was established to award the Vladimír List Prize and the Vladimír List Citation every year for contributions to technical standardization.
  • In 2003, on the basis of the results of a recertification audit of all activities, the Czech Standards Institute was awarded a Certificate confirming the compliance of the CNI quality management system with the requirements of the ISO 9001:2000 standard for the provision of services involving technical standards.
  • In 2004, a meeting of the ISO COPOLCO Committee on Consumer Policy was organized in Prague with the participation of ISO President Oliver Smoot.
  • In 2005, the Czech Standards Institute changed its logotype and abbreviation from CSNI to CNI.

Since 2009

As of 31st December 2008 the Minister of Industry and Trade decided to dissolve the Czech Standards Institute as a contributory organization of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

From 1st January 2009, the development and publishing of standards in the Czech Republic is ensured by the Czech Office for Standards, Metrology and Testing (ÚNMZ), in accordance with the Act 22/1997 Coll. on technical requirements for products and on amendments of some acts (Article 5, paragraph 6).

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