An association which manages a worldwide identification system and standards for communicating data for products, services, transport units, locations and assets. EAN develops and maintains international and multi-sectorial standards related to the identification system and its application in Automatic Data Capture and Electronic Commerce technologies. The global objective is to provide a common language to be used in national and international trade.
In 1974, manufacturers and distributors of twelve European countries formed a council to examine the possibility of developing a standard article numbering system for Europe, similar to the Universal Product Code (UPC) system already set in the USA by the Uniform Code Council (UCC). As a result a not for profit association called "European Article Numbering Association" (EAN) was created in 1997. The Head Office was established in Brussels, Belgium.
The success of the EAN System led to the establishment of new Numbering Organisations in countries from all continents. EAN quickly acquired an International status and changed its name to "EAN International". Today, more than 550,000 companies worldwide use the EAN system through an international network of Numbering Organisations represented in over 90 countries. In addition, UCC's membership reaches 220,000 companies in the USA and Canada.
EAN International was originally involved with the numbering and bar coding of products in the retail industry. The success in this sector led to other industries adopting EAN standards to meet their item identification needs. Health Care, Packaging, Transport, Publishing, Shoe, Electronics, Postal Services, Defense, are examples of sectors adopting the EAN system.
EAN now partners with UCC ("EAN.UCC") and they are involved in the Electronic Product Code (EPC) and associated standards for The Internet of Things.