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The European Commission publishes the new European Standardisation Strategy

03/02/2022

The European Commission has presented the new European Standardisation Strategy, which strengthens the key role of technical standards for a resilient, green and digital European single market.

The European Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, has been responsible for presenting the new strategy, which will allow greater support for European strategic autonomy and competition by facilitating a resilient, green and digital economy and adopting European innovations in the global market through European and international technical standards that are in line with the values and interests of the European Union.

The strategy reaffirms the important role of the CEN, CENELEC and ETSI European standardisation organisations, which Spanish Association for Standardisation, UNE, is the Spanish member of, in developing standards that facilitate the maintenance of the Internal Market and the deployment of Digital and Green Transitions.

The Strategy also underlines the importance of the principle of national delegation in the development of European standards and the necessary leadership of European members in the development of international standards in ISO and IEC in areas of strategic priority for European institutions and economic agents.

The Strategy also upholds the unique nature of the European Standardisation System, which is based on markets, inclusive, structured through public-private collaboration, coherent, effective and robust.

Together with the Strategy, there was a presentation of the Proposed amendment of Regulation 1025/2012 on standardisation, a report on its application, and the Annual Union work programme for European standardisation for 2022.

The European Commission states that "the high speed of innovation, our environmental and digital ambitions, and the involvement of technological standards for the democratic values of the EU require an increasingly strategic approach to standardisation. The EU cannot achieve its ambitions in relation to climate neutrality with a resilient and circular economy without European standards. To remain a global benchmark in standardisation, the EU must have a significant influence on activities in this field and it is crucial that it leads the work in the most important international forums and institutions. By establishing standards worldwide, the EU manages to transmit its values, while providing European companies with the important advantage of being a pioneer in this area."

The European standardisation strategy focuses on five main areas:

1. To anticipate, prioritise and address urgent standardisation needs in strategic areas: developing standards more quickly, in line with the European policy and innovation agenda. The Commission has identified areas that urgently need standards (producing vaccines and medicines to tackle COVID-19, recycling key raw materials, the renewable hydrogen value chain, low carbon cement, chip certification, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and data).

To this end, a high-level forum will be set up where representatives of Member States, European standardisation organisations, national standardisation bodies, industry, SMEs, civil society and academia will participate to identify future standardisation priorities. The Committee will also appoint a Chief Standardisation Officer, who will be responsible for providing high-level guidance on standardisation activities to all Commission departments and will coordinate the Hub of Standardisation excellence.

2. Improve the governance and integrity of the European standardisation system: the European system is open, transparent, inclusive and impartial and it must be the responsibility of European agents (i.e. national delegations - the EU Member State and European Economic Area (EEA) national Standardisation bodies) to decide on European standards to limit the possible influence by representatives of third countries on key sector decisions,such as cybersecurity or hydrogen standards.

A peer review process will be used to make sure the system remains inclusive, so that SMEs, users and civil society are an active part of European standardisation organisations and national standardisation organisations. In addition, the Committee will publish the assessment of the Regulation on standardisation.

3. Strengthen European leadership in global standards: The high-level forum, together with the Member States and national standardisation bodies, will establish a mechanism to share information, coordinate and strengthen the European approach in international standardisation forums (ISO, IEC and ITU). The EU will promote coordination with the regions and countries with which Europe has ongoing dialogues. It will also finance standardisation projects in Africa and neighbouring countries.

4. Support for innovation: The Commission will launch a «standardisation drive» to highlight innovation projects and anticipate early standardisation needs. Analysis will be done to decide if the results of research work should be transferred to standards. A code of good standardisation practices will be developed to strengthen the link between standardisation, research and innovation through the European Research Area (ERA).

5. Train the next generation of standardisation experts: the development of standards, both at European and international level, is based on the contributions of experts, and the Commission will therefore promote greater academic knowledge of standards by organising university and training sessions for researchers.

The Internal Market Commissioner stressed that "technical standards are of strategic importance. Europe's technological sovereignty and its ability to reduce dependencies and protect EU values will depend on our ability to become a global standard-setter. With today's strategy, we are making our standardisation priorities clear and creating the conditions for European standards to become a global point of reference".