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Standards, the EU's strongest allies

European standards, a sturdy support for the pillars of the EU Agenda


The Single Market and free movement of goods, services and persons is one of the main drivers of economic and social growth in the European Union (EU) and its Member States. Over the next few years, this framework needs to be strengthened by not hindering it in any way, and standardisation will play an important role in doing just this.

In its document Prosperity, Planet and People: The three mainstays of the European Union's Agenda for 2019-2024, Business Europe, the European employers' organization that brings together national business organizations, makes various recommendations for future policy decisions at European level, several of which make direct reference to technical standards.

With regard to the Single Market, he asked that the role of industry in standardisation be recovered, as well as the principle of presumption of conformity in the application of harmonised standards: "Standardisation is an industry-led process and its success lies in the relevance of the standards developed for the markets. If industry is to remain competitive and maintain its role in generating standards for global use, it must ensure that European standardisation thrives". 

It also identifies the circular economy as another area where standards play a significant role in boosting the export of products from European companies. This new model of economic growth consists of optimising the value of raw materials through measures such as the prevention, reuse or recycling of waste. Many companies show a great willingness to move forward, but encounter stumbling blocks along the way.

However, it is not only industrial sectors that recognise the importance of standardisation and empower standards. The European Commission, in its document Single Market Performance Report 2019, states that "ensuring high quality standards to protect our environment and enhance product safety is an important factor for the Single Market, which covers a wide range of economic activities, to operate effectively".

It also highlights "The key role of standardisation" in promoting the European Union's Sustainable Development Agenda.

It also states that standardisation is a crucial enabler with regard to the integrity of the Single Market. In turn, it reiterates that a holistic policy has been developed to support innovation and standardisation, as well as guaranteeing access to standardised technologies.

This document also highlights the role of standards in the circular economy and energy labelling. Along these same lines, it goes on to point out that "Standardisation can boost the development of innovative products and production processes that are based on technological progress and contributes to energy efficiency, improved recycling and sustainable production".

In particular, it stresses that "Ensuring efficient energy and environmental performance of products and processes is already possible thanks to the Single Market, including harmonised standards".In fact, there are already numerous standards endorsed by the Ecodesign and energy labelling legislation, the majority of which are harmonised. The same applies to chemicals legislation, which has been instrumental in ensuring free movement of substances, mixtures and articles through the harmonising of standards and requirements.

Standards will also boost the EU's Digital Revolution. New technological fields such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) will need standardised data models, particularly in the health sector.

In conclusion, the common position shared by Industry and the European Union reinforce the strategic role played by standardisation in supporting the pillars upon which the European Single Market operates, reaching a consensus of opinion as to the needs of markets and regulators and always looking for the best way to protect citizens and the environment.

The Spanish Association for Standardization, UNE, as part of this network, we are committed to contributing to the sustainability of these activities, operating in Europe and internationally. UNE defends the interests of Spanish businesses at European and world forums where key standards for industrial competitiveness are developed, conveying its opinions and striving for excellence in processes, new digital products and solutions to market needs.