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More and faster standards to advance Europe’s competitiveness

European Commission - MEMO/11/369   01/06/2011

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MEMO/11/369

Brussels, 1 June 2011

More and faster standards to advance Europe’s competitiveness

The standardisation strategy presented today by Vice-President Antonio Tajani plays an important part in supporting the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Measures include actions to be taken by the Commission and a series of recommendations addressed to other actors in the European standardisation system. Funding to support standardisation activities will remain a major driver for the development of standards whose primary function is to support EU policy making. The following actions form the core of the standardisation communication.

Standardisation as a strong support to industrial policy and innovation

In an era of increasing global competition, an ageing European population and fiscal restraint, European competitiveness depends on our ability to foster innovation in products, services and processes. A systematic approach to research, innovation and standardisation should be adopted at European and national level to improve the exploitation of research results, help best ideas to reach the market and achieve wide market uptake.

(1) The Commission will establish an annual Work Programme, which will identify priorities for European standardisation.

(2) The Commission will demand that European standards for innovative products and services will be quickly elaborated and adopted, for example in the field of eco-design, smart grids, energy efficiency of buildings, nanotechnologies, security and eMobility

(3) The Commission will make funding of the independent European standardisation bodies (ESOs) conditional on certain performance criteria. In particular European standards should be adopted more quickly.

(4) When European standards with a scientific component are to be incorporated into EU policy, impartial, sound and balanced scientific evidence will increasingly be taken into account.

(5) ESOs, Member States and other standardisation bodies are expected to improve awareness and education about standardisation

Standards are crucial to address key societal challenges

Standardisation is already a key instrument for improving accessibility of persons with disabilities and elderly people. Around one tenth of all European citizens have some form of disability and as the population of Europe ages, this figure will increase.

(6) The Commission will revise the General Product Safety Directive, in which it envisages to strengthen the role of European standards and to shorten the procedure for their adoption.

(7) The Commission will extend the strategic use of standardisation in support of environmental and accessibility legislation and policies and in the field of civil security.

(8) Member States should ensure the effective involvement of stakeholders, environmental NGOs and representatives of disabled and elderly people in standardisation at national level.

(9) The ESOs and NSBs (National standardisation bodies) should ensure that standards strongly consider the consumer, environmental and accessibility factors.

An inclusive standards development process

Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and societal stakeholders who represent groups such as consumers, trade unions, environmental NGOs, organisations for and of persons with disabilities must be more closely involved in the standardisation process.

(10) The Commission will request that the ESOs evaluate the introduction of alternative and more inclusive working processes (the “alternative production line”), in particular for work items that are very sensitive or of particular public interest.

(11) ESOs and NSBs should implement a voluntary scheme to demonstrate that the latter comply with membership criteria based on WTO TBT principles, such as transparency, openness, impartiality and consensus, effectiveness, relevance and coherence .

(12) The Commission will also request the ESOs and NSBs to develop a peer review system to actively monitor levels of participation in the standardisation process.

(13) The participation of national SME representative organisations and national societal stakeholders should be supported by Member States, including by means of financial support if appropriate.

(14) NSB are encouraged to provide standards at special rates or bundle them at a reduced price for SME and societal stakeholders.

(15) The position of European Associations representing SMEs will be strengthened by continuing financial support of the Commission.

Standardisation and the European Single Market for services

The service sector is today one of the main drivers of the EU economy. European standards on services must be based on consensus and market driven in which the needs of the economic operators directly or indirectly affected by the standard prevail.

(16) Standards for services will be included in the scope of the accompanying new Regulation on Standardisation.

(17) The Commission will request the development of market driven and consensus-based voluntary standards for the service sector.

(18) The Commission will set up a High Level Group on Business Services which will also examine standards issues in industries.

Standardisation, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and interoperability

Standards need to be available to assure the interoperability between devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks so that Europe can reap the full benefits of ICT. ICT directly touches upon the lives of individual citizens with over 250 million daily Internet users in the EU and nearly all European citizen owning mobile phones.

(19) The accompanying proposed Regulation will allow referencing in public procurement documents of selected ICT standards that are widely accepted by the market and comply with a set of quality criteria based on the WTO principles for international standardisation processes.

(20) In EU policies, the Commission will increasingly use selected ICT standards that comply with the same set of quality criteria, when the interoperability between devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks must be further enhanced.

(21) In 2011, the Commission will create and chair a dedicated multi-stakeholder platform to advise the Commission on matters relating to the implementation of standardisation policy in the ICT field.

(22) Member States should increase the use of standards, including the selected ICT standards, in public procurement of ICT in order to promote innovation.

(23) The ESOs are expected to continuously improve processes for bringing ICT standards developed by other standards development organisations into the European standardisation system.

Standards aim to increase EU competitiveness in the global market

Standardisation bodies based in the EU should continue to put forward proposals for international standards in those areas where Europe is a global leader to maximise European competitive advantage.

(24) The Commission will continue to promote the enhanced convergence to international standards and the use of voluntary standards in regulation.

(25) The Commission will provide technical assistance to countries and regions, with a view to encouraging their participation in international standard setting work;

(26) By supporting European standardisation experts in the countries with strong trade relations with the EU, the Commission will strengthen cooperation with their standardisation bodies.

(27) The Commission expects that ESOs and NSBs put forward more proposals for international standards in areas where Europe is a global leader and monitor their progress.

(28) ESOs are expected to act jointly in international matters and to further strengthen their existing co operation with their international counterparts. Such improved cooperation should include innovative areas of standards development, and further promotion of mechanisms for the joint preparation of standards to ensure that they are stronger.

(29) A mid-term review will be launched in 2013 at the latest to assess the progress that has been made against the original objectives and evaluate how the standardisation system is being governed. It will consider measures to make standard setting faster and more efficient.


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