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European Commission Issues Plans to Modernize EU's Standardization Policy


06/23/2016

This month, the European Commission released a communications proposal detailing initiatives to modernize the European Union’s standardization policy, in order to keep pace with global technological developments, political priorities, and other international trends. The Commission intends to modernize the European Standardization System (ESS) in cooperation with industry, European Standardization Organizations (ESOs), small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and all other interested stakeholders. It also announced next steps on the Joint Initiative on Standardization (JIS), which aims to reinforce the partnership between the European institutions and the greater standardization community.

Detailed in its Single Market Strategy, the Commission is focused on a single and coherent ESS that “adapts to the changing environment, supports multiple policies, and brings benefits and predictability to consumers and businesses.” Standards, which are strategic assets for boosting competitiveness, also support the service economy and help ensure the quality and safety of products and services.

As outlined in the Commission’s press release, the plan will serve the standardization community and related stakeholders by:

  • Providing greater clarity on service standards and how they can be used;

  • Helping the Commission and standard setters identify problems and gaps where European service standards could be most useful;

  • Encouraging more effective and targeted development of European service standards in the areas where they can be most beneficial to businesses and consumers;

  • Helping remove and reduce national barriers faced by service providers; and

  • Promoting greater awareness of standards.

Along with the proposal the Commission also reports that the JIS—an innovative dialogue process that unites European and national standardization organizations and bodies, industry and their associations, SMEs, consumer associations, trade unions, environmental organizations, member states, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and the Commission—was formally endorsed by all partners on June 13, 2016. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is supportive of global partnerships that strengthen international standardization and global trade. The Institute has had an ongoing collaborative dialogue with the ESOs—CEN, CENELEC, and ETSI— for over two decades, and these relationships have evolved to include the European Commission in recent years [see related coverage]. Additionally, in 2015, following several months of dialogue, ANSI and the ESOs released two Q&A documents facilitating a better mutual understanding of the U.S. and European standardization systems.

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