Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)
Developers of the Ethereum community propose new standards for the Ethereum platform, by submitting an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP). This includes protocol specifications and contract standards. Once that EIP is approved by a committee and finalized, it becomes an ERC.
The finalized EIPs give the Ethereum developers a set of implementable standards. This allows Smart Contracts to be built with these standards, which a common interface can access.