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Generally speaking, a standard is a "model to refer to " or "a procedure the repeated use of which allows for delivery of products or services with same specific characteristics ". Standards in that sense are common in and very useful to hospitality establishments. 

However, what are at stake here are formal standards developed within the context of official standardisation bodies. Such bodies exist at several levels: national (e.g. AENOR, AFNOR, BSI and DIN), European (CEN) and international (ISO).

While the use of standards remains voluntary, the European Union has, since the mid-1980s, made an increasing use of standards in support of its policies and legislation. Standardisation has contributed to the completion of the Single Market for goods in the context of the "New Approach'": legislative measures define minimum requirements, whose technical specificities are detailed in European standards developed by CEN. Until recently, standards were mainly developed for goods.

Directive 2006/123 on services in the internal market calls for the development of European standards for services with the aim of, inter alia, facilitating information to the recipient as well as the compatibility and the quality of services.

European standards in relation to services  may concern activities provided by hospitality businesses. Although supposedly voluntary in principle, standards become easily mandatory. Indeed, tandards can be integrated into law and also be used as a benchmark by tribunals and courts.

For these reasons, HOTREC constantly monitors the work of standardisation bodies at European and international level.