The eurocodes are the ten European standards (EN; harmonised technical rules) specifying how structural design should be conducted within the European Union (EU). These were developed by the European Committee for Standardisation upon the request of the European Commission.
- a means to prove compliance with the requirements for mechanical strength and stability and safety in case of fire established by European Union law.
- a basis for construction and engineering contract specifications.
- a framework for creating harmonized technical specifications for building products (CE mark).
By March 2010 the Eurocodes are mandatory for the specification of European public works and are intended to become the de facto standard for the private sector. The Eurocodes therefore replace the existing national building codes published by national standard bodies (e.g. BS 5950), although many countries had a period of co-existence. Additionally, each country is expected to issue a National Annex to the Eurocodes which will need referencing for a particular country (e.g. The UK National Annex). At present take up of Eurocodes is slow on private sector projects and existing national codes are still widely used by engineers.
In 1975, the Commission of the European Community (presently the European Commission), decided on an action programme in the field of construction, based on article 95 of the Treaty. The objective of the programme was to eliminate technical obstacles to trade and the harmonisation of technical specifications. Within this action programme, the Commission took the initiative to establish a set of harmonised technical rules for the design of construction works which, in a first would serve as an alternative to the national rules in force in the member states of the European Union (EU) and, ultimately, would replace them. For fifteen years, the Commission, with the help of a steering committee with representatives of the member states, conducted the development of the Eurocodes programme, which led to the first generation of European codes in the 1980s.
In 1989, the Commission and the member states of the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) decided, on the basis of an agreement between the Commission and to transfer the preparation and the publication of the Eurocodes to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) through a series of mandates, in order to provide them with a future status of European Standard (EN). This links de facto the Eurocodes with the provisions of all the Council's Directives and/or Commission's Decisions dealing with European standards (e.g. Regulation (EU) No. 305/2011 on the marketing of construction products and Directive 2014/24/EU on government procurement in the European Union).
The eurocodes are published as a separate European Standards, each having a number of parts. By 2002, ten sections have been developed and published: