Emergency and safety lighting have been covered by laws and regulations in many European countries for a long time. Therefore, the harmonisation of standards has not been concluded in this area yet.

Since August 2004, standard EN 50172 "Emergency escape lighting systems" has been in effect and was published as DIN EN 50172 (VDE 0108-Part 100) in Germany in January 2005. It applies to signs and lighting for escape routes in cases of general power supply failure at work places and buildings intended for gatherings. It contains definitions and general provisions that could be agreed upon, however, there are no detailed or numeralised requirements. Regarding photometric requirements for safety lighting, standard EN 1838 "Emergency lighting" (see chapter ) is referenced, and standard EN 60598-2-22 is consulted regarding luminaires for safety lighting.

The mandatory withdrawal of national standards conflicting with European standard EN 50172 was supposed to be completed by 1 March 2007.

The number of national deviations from standard EN 50172 due to national legislation further underlines the complexity of the harmonisation process. Italy e.g. features seven decrees, and France is also looking at a number of national regulations regarding emergency lighting, which overrule European standards in these countries.

In Germany as well, legal requirements for emergency lighting have been made in the form of the work place ordinance, trade associations’ accident prevention regulations and definitions contained in state-level construction regulations of the federal states for places of assembly, hotels, sales facilities and other areas.

For Germany, the 1989 series of standards DIN VDE 0108 has been transformed into tentative standard DIN V VDE V0108-100:2010-08, “Emergency escape lighting systems” (VDE V0108-100:2010-08) to indicate that Germany would like for EN 50172:2004 to be amended. It already contains several concrete requirements for safety lighting (table).

Table 3.165: Safety lighting installation requirements according to DIN V VDE V 0108-100:2010-08

Whether or not emergency or safety lighting is mandatory is governed by legal provisions. Where it is required, it is subject to photometric requirements according to EN 1838.

For the electrical installation, standard DIN VDE 0100-560 “Errichten von Niederspannungsanlagen - Teil 5-56: Auswahl und Errichtung elektrischer Betriebsmittel - Einrichtungen für Sicherheitszwecke” applies (IEC 60364-5-56:2009, with modifications); German adoption HD 60364-5-56:2010.