Brussels, 16th October 2006
European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for industry and enterprise policy, said: “European and international standards give our enterprises the ability to compete in global markets. SMEs including their enormous innovative capacity must be more engaged in standardisation. A new handshake between standardisation and SMEs in Europe is both necessary and possible now”.
For many SMEs in the EU, for instance in the domains of personal protective equipment, electrical equipment, or telecommunications, participation in standardisation is a strategic asset. It is access to the fantastic ideas which flow everyday in standardisation committees that allows these SMEs to be innovative in very specialized domains. Their anticipation and good knowledge of recognised standards permits them to be market leaders not only in their home country, but across Europe and the whole world. These small companies are the success stories which can be the inspiration for other SMEs to achieve competitiveness through standardisation.
But SMEs are suffering from barriers in access to the standards and from practical difficulties to participate in the process of standardisation. Standards have often ignored the particular business conditions of SMEs. Participants of the World Standards Day called for a new deal between standardisation and SMEs was necessary now. It would complement the Commission’s efforts to ‘Think small first’ and replace business unfriendly regulation with a ‘better regulation’, in particular for SMEs.
Standardisers need to find ways to accommodate the constraints of SMEs in the standardisation process. The Commission co-funds the participation in European standardisation of experts representing the interests of SMEs, and supports the initiatives of European Standards Organisations to increase benefits for SMEs. The findings of the EC-commissioned study “Good practices for the promotion of SMEs' and craft enterprises' participation in European standardisation and use of standards”, also presented at the conference, indicate that Member States need to do more in order to improve SMEs access to standardisation at national level.
The Commission will continue to promote and monitor the increase of benefits of standardisation to SMEs.
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