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EU reaches deal on technology standards. Photo by geralt on Pixabay

Brussels, 12 October 2022

Today, Parliament and Council reached a political agreement on rules to strengthen EU’s role as a global standard-setter.

The purpose of the updated standardisation regulation, agreed today, is to strengthen and modernise the governance of the European standardisation system.

Standards give confidence that a product or a service is fit for purpose, is safe, and will not harm people or the environment. Compliance with harmonised standards guarantees that products placed on the single market are in line with EU law.

European standards must be decided by European bodies

European standardisation organisations (ESOs) – CEN, CENELEC and ETSI – have an exclusive role in carrying out standardisation work requested by the Commission in the interest, policy objectives, and values of the EU.

The rules agreed today aim to strengthen the ESO’s governance structures by requiring decisions concerning European standards following mandates from the Commission to be taken only by national standardisations bodies from the EU and EEA member states. This will reinforce the role of member states and avoid the undue influence of foreign actors during the development of standards for key areas, like cybersecurity or hydrogen fuel.

Balanced stakeholder representation

Parliament negotiators introduced further clarifications to strengthen the representation of relevant stakeholders, like SMEs and civil society organisations. They also added provisions to keep the ESO’s open to participants from national standardisation organisations of countries joining the EU, candidate countries and countries, which have formally become members of the ESOs in question.

Quote

EP lead negotiator Svenja Hahn (Renew, DE) said: “Standard setting is crucial for the future of our single market and for European society. Standards are not only technical details, but can also be a political instrument. The final outcome of the inter-institutional negotiations is important for the implementation of the EU’s standardisation strategy. The European Parliament, Commission and Council agreed that standard setting must remain a process that involves a broad cross-section of stakeholders. We will continue to make sure that the public interest and European values are not undermined in this process, and this commitment is reflected in the final text.”

Background

On 2 February 2022, the Commission presented a new standardisation strategy outlining its approach to standards in the single market and globally. Along with the proposal to amend the Regulation on standardisation, agreed today, a report on its implementation, and the 2022 annual Union work programme for European standardisation were also published.

Standards play a critical role in tackling the challenges facing European industries. They are essential for the data economy and ensure that new technologies reflect our democratic values. As a global standard-setter, the EU also exports best practices and increases synergies in global value chains. This enhances trade flows and opportunities for European businesses to scale up their activities. EU standards are synonymous with quality around the world.

 


EU Commission welcomes political agreement to improve the governance and integrity of the European standardisation system

The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached today between the European Parliament and EU Member States on the amendment to the European Standardisation Regulation, proposed by the Commission as part of the Standardisation Strategy presented on 2 February 2022. Trilogue negotiations have now concluded, paving the way for final approval of the legal text by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said: 

“This agreement will make European standards fit for the green and digital transitions. Ensuring that data is protected in artificial intelligence or ensuring a mobile device to be secure from hacking, rely on standards. So they must be in line with our democratic values. In the same vein, we need standards for the roll-out of important investment projects, like hydrogen or batteries. And we need to valorise innovation investment by providing EU companies with an important first-mover advantage.”

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said:

I am pleased with the swift conclusion of the negotiations only eight months after the Commission proposal. With the agreement reached today, we are taking an important step in putting the EU Standardisation Strategy into practice. We are strengthening the integrity of the European standardisation process, putting the national standardisation bodies in the EU, their local stakeholder communities and the European interest at the centre. This will help reinforce Europe’s role as a global standard-setter.”

The Standardisation Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 sets the framework for the European standardisation process, allowing the Commission to mandate the three European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs) – CEN, CENELEC and ETSI – to develop European standards in support of EU legislation. The amendment foresees that, when the Commission requests standards from these organisations, key decisions in the standards-development process are taken by the national standardisation bodies from the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). These national standardisation bodies are best placed to ensure an inclusive process with balanced stakeholder consultation and with due respect for EU values. This is particularly important in strategic areas, such as cybersecurity or hydrogen. The three European Standardisation Organisations will need to put in place administrative and good governance principles, which will enhance the openness, transparency and inclusiveness of the standardisation processes. In particular, they will draw on the expertise from all relevant parties, including industry, SMEs, civil organisations and academia.

Next Steps

The European Parliament and the Council will now formally have to adopt the new Regulation before it can enter into force. Afterwards, the European standardisation organisations will have 6 months to implement the governance changes to their internal statutes.

Background

Standards are the foundation of the EU Single Market and global competitiveness. They help manufacturers ensure the interoperability of products and services, reduce costs, improve safety and foster innovation. Standards are an invisible but fundamental part of our daily life: from Wi-Fi frequencies, to connected toys or ski bindings, for example. Standards give confidence that a product or a service is fit for purpose, is safe and will not harm people or the environment.

Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 provides a legal basis to use European standards for products and services, identify ICT technical specifications, and finance the European standardisation process. A harmonised standard is a European standard developed by a recognised European Standards Organisation (CEN, CENELEC or ETSI) following a request from the European Commission. Once accepted, these standards become part of EU law and provide manufacturers using them across the Single Market with a presumption of conformity with the requirements of EU legislation, helping to reduce costs for small businesses. The process is based on a public-private-partnership between the Commission and the standardisation community, where the division of roles and responsibilities is guided by the 2012 Standardisation Regulation.

The Commission proposed to amend the Regulation as part of its European Standardisation Strategy of 2 February 2022.

For More Information

Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 as regards the decisions of European standardisation organisations concerning European standards and European standardisation deliverables

An EU Strategy on Standardisation: Setting global standards in support of a resilient, green and digital EU Single Market

The 2022 annual Union work programme for European standardisation

Source – EU Commission

 

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