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European standards for 2020
Standards are drafted as a result of a partnership between industry, public authorities and other stakeholders in the European Union (EU). Standardisation therefore plays a key role in productivity and growth. However, a number of these standards are still drafted at the initiative of industry. By developing a European framework for standardisation, the European Commission aims to improve the participation of all stakeholders in the drafting of standards.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee of 1 June 2011 – A strategic vision for European standards: Moving forward to enhance and accelerate the sustainable growth of the European economy by 2020 (Text with EEA relevance) [COM(2011) 311 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication presents a strategy aimed at establishing a European standardisation system.
European standards serving industrial and innovation policy
The introduction of European standards in industry has many benefits, such as the reduction of accessory costs, the capacity to anticipate technical requirements, and reducing the cost of transactions. Regarding innovation, European standards would enable current knowledge to be codified and disseminated in several technological areas.
In order to support industrial and innovation policy, the European Commission plans in particular to:
- accelerate the drafting of standards and subsequently adopt such standards for innovative products and services in the areas of eco-design, smart grids and energy efficiency;
- draw up performance criteria for European Standards Organisations (ESOs);
- improve awareness and education about standardisation.
European standards serving society
European standards have an important role to play with regard to consumer protection and access for elderly and disabled people.
Green growth is also an area that could benefit from European standards insofar as they would contribute to fostering a transition towards a low-carbon economy.
In order that European standards be of service to society, the Commission proposes to:
- revise the Directive on general product safety;
- apply European standards to environment policy, equal access, security, and civil protection.
European standards serving an inclusive drafting process
According to the Commission, ESOs and national standardisation organisations (NSOs) have a role to play in an inclusive drafting process. For this reason, it has invited ESOs and NSOs to put in place parameters for participation criteria, and a system of peer review the goal of which is to monitor participation in the standardisation process by the various stakeholders.
Member States are encouraged to promote the participation of national organisations representing SMEs and national stakeholders from civil society in the standards drafting process.
European standards serving the single market
The free movement of goods is effectively framed by the European standardisation system, in particular through the “new approach”. However, European standards should be applied to services in the same way.
For this reason the Commission intends to include standards for services in the scope of the future Regulation on standardisation. These standards for services must be based on the market, consensus, and public interest.
European standards serving Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
ICTs represent 5 % of European GDP, which corresponds to EUR 660 billion. It is therefore important to guarantee interoperability between devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks through standards, as recommended by the Digital Agenda for Europe.
The Commission intends to create and chair a multi-stakeholder platform the main aim of which will be to advise it on the implementation of standardisation policies in the field of ICTs. ESOs are tasked with improving the integration of ICT standards drafted by other ICT standardisation organisations in the European standardisation system.
European standards serving the competitiveness of the EU on the global market
European NSOs are all members of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechical Commission (IEC). Their participation enables European firms on the global market to be more competitive through access to foreign markets and international trade partnerships.
The EU wishes to promote the use of international standards by fostering their use by neighbouring countries and other world regions. In order to do this, it wishes to provide technical assistance, and encourage participation in the drafting of international standards. Furthermore, ESOs and NSOs are invited to make proposals for international standards in fields in which Europe has a leading role.
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This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.
- Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry – European standards