Concerned about standardization falling behind ever-accelerating innovation, in the EU they aimed to find ways to accelerate standardization to narrow that gap. The EU published key issues and concerns to give context to the 14 questions used in crowdsourcing for answers and proposals. Via my employer, I have contributed to the official part, here I plan to take it further, independently, along my personal vision.
For quick overview, I cite the 14 questions with excerpted context below. In upcoming posts, I plan to summarize my own views how standardization could add thick value to society.
When in 2010 May, the Public consultation on the review of the European Standardization System closed, the EU had received around 400 contributions, from
Sources for the crowd
View the Consultation Document, with full context for the 14 questions.
Excerpt from Consultation Document
In the context of the Better Regulation policy of the European Union, an Impact Assessment shall be performed on all provisions and options envisaged by the Commission. This Open Consultation aims at gathering opinions and feedback from stakeholders on avenues for exploration which will help the Commission shape concrete proposals to improve the functioning of European standardisation notably in the context of the EU Research and Innovation Plan.
NB: the present consultation document deals with standardisation outside the ICT sector, as ICT standardisation has already been the subject of the White Paper consultation.
A. Avoidance of the creation of new technical barriers to trade for products and services in the internal market
The emergence of national service standards and alternative standardisation documents (like Publically Available Specifications) developed by National Standards Organisations (NSOs) constitutes a risk of technical barriers to trade within the internal market. Since the 1980’s, the Commission and the standardisation bodies (ESOs and NSOs) shall be informed – in the field of products – of the new subjects for which the NSOs have decided, by including them in their standards programme, to prepare or amend a standard. The same procedure could be envisaged for national programmes of service standards (including process standards) and alternative standardisation documents.
1. Do you think that service standards (including process standards) and alternative standardisation documents should be included in the scope of Directive 98/34/EC or its successor?
2. Are you aware of specific cases where national service standards and alternative standardisation documents have caused technical barriers to trade?
B. Adaptation of the European standardisation system to the rapid evolution of technologies
The traditional standardisation process lasts an average of 1 to 3 years. This pace very often does not correspond to the speed with which new technologies are developed, and some sectors have been reluctant to ask the standards organisations to develop standards, even if such standards would have contributed to extend their market or rationalise their processes. Others, especially in the ICT sector, have developed interoperability specifications in fora and consortia, outside the ESOs as described in the Commission White Paper. However, neither the current legal framework of European standardisation (Decision 87/95/EEC), nor the rules on public procurement allow reference to such fora and consortia specifications in ICT regulations or public policies.
3. For areas other than Information and Communication Technology (ICT), should it be possible to refer to documents developed by fora and consortia in legislation and public policies? If it should, how should it be implemented?
4. How could ESOs and NSOs be encouraged to accelerate their standards development process? Should for example the Community financing for standardisation be subject to conditions in terms of speed of delivery whilst maintaining the openness of the process?
C. Adaptation of the European standardisation system to new markets and societal challenges
European standardisation has been developed on the model of the international standards organisations, to contribute to rationalisation of production, growth of labour productivity, opening of markets and safety of products. Globalisation, new global challenges, “Better regulation” public policies, new societal demands as well as a growing share of services in the global economy and the boosting of innovation to resolve the current economic crisis request standardisation to adapt its traditional structures.
Standards remain voluntary instruments. Their effect depends on their credibility and of the level of consensus that they represent. The current diversification of the use of standards requires a broadening of the range of partners involved in the standardisation process, meaning enhanced openness, transparency and balanced representation.
Standards facilitate global trade and access to markets. Standards need to be accessible for all users, and the availability of translations of standards can help disseminate new technologies.
5. Should the WTO principles of transparency, openness, impartiality, consensus, efficiency, relevance and consistency be integrated in the legal framework of European standardisation (especially in EU Directive 98/34/EC or in its successor)? How should this be implemented?
6. How could the participation of consumer organisations, environmental NGOs, trade unions and social partners, and SMEs be best promoted? What should be the role of public authorities (European Commission and Member States) in supporting such a participation in a transparent, open, impartial, consensual, efficient, relevant and consistent European standardisation system?
7. How could the NSOs (National Standards Organisations) deepen their cooperation, and mutualise their activities? Could the following tasks be shared amongst several NSOs?
- Management of the Secretariats of Technical Committees?
- Notification of new national standardisation projects?
- Promotion/sales of standards?
8. Without prejudice to the national delegation principle, how could the European Standards Organisations (ESOs) manage directly, on a case by case basis, some standardisation activities, especially some Technical Committees?
9. What support should the European Commission provide to facilitate the use of European standards as a means to open global markets? What would be the operational means that the Commission should use? (Support experts’ participation in international standardisation activities, translation of European standards into extra-community languages?)
10. Under which conditions do you think that the European Commission could launch, on a case by case basis, calls for tenders, open to the ESOs and to other organisations, to develop standards supporting EU policies and legislation?
11. What is, in your view, the most efficient level of participation in the process of standards development: national, European, international?
12. In your opinion, where is the major added value in European standardisation with respect to national standardisation?
D. Cost of standards
The costs of purchasing standards have been identified as an important barrier to their use, especially by SMEs. Purchasing a full collection of standards is sometimes necessary to answer a call for tender, access specific markets or take full advantage of the benefits of “New Approach” regulation. Some stakeholders consider that the price of standards – different in every National Standards Organisations – is too high with respect to their function of public interest.
13. What are, in your view, the most serious barriers to the use of standards by enterprises: costs of standards (purchasing price)? Costs of operational implementation? Access to information? Knowledge of existing standards?13
14. What could the standards organisations do, in addition to their current practice, to facilitate the access to standards, especially by SMEs?