Earlier this month, the Commission presented a new Standardisation Strategy outlining the approach to standards within the Single Market as well as globally. It aims to strengthen the EU's global competitiveness, to enable a resilient, green and digital economy, and to enshrine democratic values in technology applications.
The importance of this action relies on the fact that standards are an often invisible, but are in reality a fundamental part of our daily life: from Wi-Fi frequencies, to connected toys or ski bindings, just to mention a few. Standards give confidence that a product or a service is fit for purpose, is safe and will not harm people or the environment.
The Strategy presented by the Commission proposes five key sets of actions:
- Anticipate, prioritise and address standardisation needs in strategic areas: the need to establish standards faster and in tune with the European innovation and policy agenda. The Commission has identified standardisation urgencies as regards COVID-19 vaccine and medicine production, critical raw materials recycling, the clean hydrogen value chain, low-carbon cement, chips certification and data standards. As of this year, standardisation priorities will be clearly identified in the 2022 annual Union work programme for European standardisation. A High-level Forum will also be organised to inform future standardisation priorities.
- Improve the governance and integrity of the European standardisation system: European standards, which support EU policy and legislation, must be decided by European players. The Commission proposed an amendment to the Regulation on standardisation to improve the governance in the European standardisation system. While the European system will remain open, transparent, inclusive and impartial, the proposal prescribes that mandates at the request of the Commission to the European standardisation organisations must be handled by national delegates – the national standardisation bodies – from the EU and EEA Member States. This will avoid any undue influence of actors from outside the EU and EEA in the decision-making processes during the development of standards for key areas, like cybersecurity or hydrogen standards. The Commission will further pay close attention to the inclusiveness of the system, the role of SMEs and civil society. It calls on the European standardisation organisations to modernise their governance structures and will launch a peer review process among Member States and national standardisation bodies. At the same time, the Commission will launch the evaluation of the Regulation on standardisation.
- Enhance European leadership in global standards: the Commission will work through the High-Level Forum to set up a new mechanism with EU Member States and national standardisation bodies to share information, coordinate and strengthen the European approach to international standardisation. The Commission will also pursue more coordination between EU Member States and like-minded partners. The EU will fund standardisation projects in African and the Neighbourhood countries.
- Support innovation: the Commission is proposing to better tap into the potential of EU-funded research to valorise innovation projects through standardisation activities and anticipate early standardisation needs. A ‘standardisation booster' to support researchers under Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe to test the relevance of their results for standardisation, will be launched.
- Enable the next generation of standardisation experts: standards rely on the best experts and Europe is facing a generation shift. The Commission will promote more academic awareness on standards, for instance through the future organisation of EU University Days and training of researchers.
"Standards are of global relevance, as other regions and players are reiforcing their global presence by being more strategic and assertive. Thus, the EU Standardisation needs to evolve and respond to these challenges" the Strategy argues.
Read more about this strategy here.