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The Background of Standardization in Greece

0. Import

The modern and systematic standardisation in Greece remained unknown for many years due to the industrial underdevelopment. While industrially developed countries, had established National Bodies for Standardisation since the beginning of twentieth century (in 1901 in the Great Britain the BSI, in 1926 the French Body for standardisation, AFNOR, in 1922  the German Body for Standardisation, DIN), in Greece this role was undertaken by the state and the specifications issued were enforced by decrees. The lack of national specifications resulted in many Greek enterprises following the specifications of other countries, adopting automatically the corresponding technology of the country.

1. The initial proposal

The idea of organising standardisation as institution was initially contemplated in Greece in 1931, 77 years ago, and derived from the need of better regulation and protection of industrial products.
The at that time administration of the Greek Technical Chamber (TEE) (rapporteur Dimitris Eystratiadis, Civil Engineer during the presidency of Nikolaos Kitsikis) understood the national profits of standardisation and the need to take actions, but they did not adopt the proposed model of organisation with wide representation of different institutions. Thus, TEE, as the official technical adviser of the state, set up in 1933 a four-member committee consisted only of members of it, the “Greek Committee of Standardization” (ENO - abbreviation of the word Unification). In this way TEE had been the first entity in Greece to support the institution of standardisation. The first impulse given was, however, stopped by the Second World War that followed.

2. The post-war effort

After the war and the civil war, in which Greece was involved in its aftermath, the effort of reorganization of institution of standardisation resumed on a new basis. In fact the at that time Administration of TEE, taking into consideration the experience and erroneous option of previous undertaking, adopted the idea of an organisation with the participation of different members.
Following tedious efforts, in June 1955 the signing of a “PROTOCOL of COLLABORATION” was achieved between four from the leader Greek associations with activities involved in the standardisation field. These organizations were TEE, Federation of Greek Industrialists- SEV, Greek Centre of Productivity -ELKEPA and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry - EVEA. Follwing this, the agreement about the “Greek Committee of Standardization-ENO” was re-established with the participation of representatives from all the organizations.
ENO, based mainly on the representativeness ensured by the protocol of collaboration, represented Greece up to 1965 in the newly founded after the war International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), elaborated programs for standardisation, established technical committees and issued 29 Greek Standards, which, however, did not achieve essential application.

3. Fall of interest and stop of work

For certain years the work progressed satisfactorily and all indications were that standardisation had taken the appropriate place in the process of industrial reform of country when unexpectedly the interest began to progressively decline. The economic support given to ENO from each participant that had signed the protocol, despite the commitment undertaken, was interrupted with the notable exception of TEE. The outcome was the lack of economic resources to continue the work, and as a result ENO worked only with the support of TEE. All Technical Committees with uncompleted work suspended their operation, whilst newer committees were not anymore established, with suspension of all activities in the end.
The solution proposed at that time was the foundation of an absolutely independent institution for standardisation.

4. The International Collection of Standards of TEE

Despite the serious problems reported above, ENO continued the participation in ISO and kept the contacts with the other National Bodies for Standardisation. Thus, with a small economic support, the right of reception of all technical work of ISO was ensured, as well as of the standards of national bodies for standardisation, with the relative Catalogue of standards and the special magazines, thus creating and enriching continuously the unique, precious and irreplaceable, for that period of time, International Collection of Standards of TEE. This collection provided Greek engineers with a unique source of technical information. TEE granted to ELOT after its establishment the work of the ENO committee and part of the International Collection of Standards.

5. New expectations

The rather limited resources of the “Greek Committee of Standardization”, did not mean also the break of efforts for finding a new solution. TEE and ENO, aiming at the securing of a realistic and continual support from the state organised in 1958 a special Congress, in which promises were given, once again without any result. In 1960 the “Greek Committee of Standardization-ENO” were broaden with the participation of the Organisation of Industrial Growth (OBA), as representative and supporter of industrial growth in Greece. Even this effort was ineffective, despite the eager support of the idea from the administrator of OBA, which after a short time ceased operating.

6. Greek Electrotechnical Union (EHE)

In the mid 60’s, with private initiative the Greek Electrotechnikal Union (EHE) was founded, an organisation aimed, inter alia, at the promotion of standardisation at the sector of electricity.
The Greek Electrotechnikal Union was a collective scientific body of not profit character. The founding members were the National Electrical Company (DEH), the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the Federation of Greek Industrialists, the Association of Mechanical engineers, Electricians and Shipbuilders of TEE, Greek centre of Productivity (ELKEPA) and industrial enterprises BIOCHALKO, IZOLA, BIK, EBIOP, etc as well as professors from academic community.
EHE became a member of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and drew up standards in the electrical sector called “Specifications -EHE”. In 1978 EHE was absorbed by ELOT.

7. Constitution of Organisation for Standardisation of Greek Products (OTEP)

At 1963, TEE was invited by government, as technical advisor, to submit a draft of law on the foundation of Organisation for Standardisation, as a Legal Entity of Public Nature. The law on the establishment of “Organisation for Standardisation of Greek Products” (OTEP) was voted in the end of 1965, but did not ensure the pledges for direct and complete activation. As a result, OTEP, three years after its foundation, did not achieve to undertake action mainly due to the limited number of personnel. The expectations for the resolution of the topic of Greek Standardisation remained once again unfulfilled until OTEP, even before been activated, was suppressed with the Obligatory Law 256/1968.

8. Establishment of Standardisation Division in the Ministry of Industry

With the same Law, in January 1968, the Standardisation division of Greek Products in the Ministry of Industry was established, and thus even though all years efforts for the establishment of an organisation of standards flexible, independent and as far as possible free from a ”public employee” mentality a pure public service was finally created with all relative disadvantages.
The Standardisation division of Greek Products constituted the official organisation of standardisation in Greece, in which OTEP responsibilities were transferred and it started carrying out the work of formulation and publication of “National Specifications”. This new public service was overwhelmed by the significant effort required for the publication of national Greek specifications (National Hellenic Specification-NHS) harmonised with ISO recommendations and with other foreign national standards. From 1968 up to 1972 that Standardisation division issued only 38 NHS, which had been published in the official government gazette.

9. Role of Standardisation division of Ministry of Industry

The model of organising Standardisation as a Public Service with the establishment of “Standardisation division in the Ministry of Industry”, was not a common occurrence organisational form among countries with a free economy and where National Bodies of Standardisation were self-supported and independent.
The Standardisation division of Ministry of Industry played simultaneously many roles, for instance as a mediator between Greek State and ENO, Delegate of State, representative of Standardisation in the committees of standardisation, as well as the role of central service and the contact point of Greece with international/European and National Bodies for Standardisation (ISO, CEN, etc) without, however, any important contribution in the formation of positions in the national policy of standardisation or the international one.
The Greek government having perceived the low level of growth of national standardisation and simultaneously being convinced for the urgent need of qualitative improvement of Greek products for improving exports, but also for the preparation of entrance of Greece in the European Community determined as an objective for 1984, decided to give the necessary impulse in the development of national standardisation and simultaneously to involve industry more closely in the work of standardisation.
Thus, in 1972 Standardisation division of Ministry of Industry received the governmental request for the establishment of an independent Body of standardisation. The Standardisation division called for preparing the law with the contribution of UNIDO-UNDP an expert,  J. Clerc, Assistant General Director of the French body of Standardisation (AFNOR). The law N. 199/73 “For the establishment and operation of Greek Organization of Standardisation” was voted in 1973. This organization was not staffed and did not function, a fact that can be attributed in generally turbulent political conditions of that period. In order to find a resolution to the problem, the caretaker government of Karamanlis voted in November 1974 the law 182/74 “For the exercise of the functions of the Hellenic organization for Standardisation (ELOT) by the standardisation division of the Ministry of Industry” that asked for a temporary restoration of the previous arrangements. Standardisation division of Ministry of Industry undertook once again the role of coordinator the standardisation work, while at the same time a draft of law was promoted for voting “For the establishment and operation of Greek Organization for Standardisation -ELOT”.

10. Establishment of Hellenic Body for Standardisation (ELOT)

The Hellenic Organisation for Standardisation was established as a non profit private legal entity with the Law 372/76 that was voted unanimously by the Parliament on 10 June 1976 and was published in the official government gazette on 30 June of same year.
The representative structure of Administrative Council as also the need for quick making-decision led to the first meeting on the 1st October of 1976.
In February 1977 the first cadre of personnel was already hired as well as the main offices established in the city of Athens (Didotou 15).

Nelly V. Vagia, Chemical Engineer