(© European Union 2022 - Source : EC)
At the beginning of February, the European Commission presented its new strategy for European standardisation, a package of proposals and measures that aims to make European standardisation more accessible, functional and transparent, to include all stakeholders and give the EU a solid basis to be a leading actor at global level.
Moreover, the new strategy addresses very important issues, to support a more efficient the European Standardisation System (ESS), so that it can be one of the leading international players in the standard writing and revision processes. Furthermore, throughout the text, SMEs are present, a sign that their importance and role in developing fair standards has not gone unnoticed.
With the new strategy, the Commission:
- Acknowledges from several points of view the role of SMEs in the creation of standards, but admits that they, and their representatives, are often prevented from participating as effectively and efficiently as they should, a problem that the Commission also wants to solve by involving the European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs). This aspect also refers to the difficulty for SMEs to access the necessary information;
- Identifies a lack of technical experts who can work within standardisation, as there are no specific courses dedicated to it, and commits to create training courses at several levels;
- Acknowledges that European standardisation does not always keep up with the latest market developments, and is committed to improving response times - this includes the possibility of publishing technical specifications where harmonised standards do not exist, which should be approached with caution;
- Acknowledges the strategic role of standardisation, which must be a tool to support the EU's leading position in key sectors, especially with regard to new technologies, and to develop a fair market for all stakeholders;
- Wants to ensure that European standardisation enables the respect, at global level, of EU values, such as respect for privacy, transparency, inclusiveness, and the green approach, to name a few.
The new Strategy has a lot of potential, especially as regards the greater involvement of SMEs at all levels (from local to international), and the creation of specific training for technical experts to support European positions. Both of these aspects, if properly implemented, can lead to great benefits for SMEs and their daily work.
But why is the new Standardisation Strategy so relevant for the SMEs EFESME represents in the lift sector?
There are specific aspects that are of major importance and interest for all European SME and that are encouraging for the development of a working environment within which lift SMEs can work and EFESME can best continue its activities in their support.
To go a bit more into details on this:
- The role of European SMEshas been underlines several times in the text, which is positive. What is crucial now is to ensure that the proposed measures are actually implemented, and in the best possible way. In this respect, the various activities organised by sectoral associations, such as EFESME, and their partners, such as SBS - Small Business Standards, are crucial in highlighting the role of SMEs.
- The proposed review of ESOs governancesupports the idea that ESOs should ensure that their (new) rules of procedure take due account of the opinion of all European stakeholders, including SMEs. This could open up interesting possibilities for ensuring that SME representatives are increasingly present at all levels that matter.
- The recognition of the importance of SMEs and their participation in international standardisationis crucial to prevent ISO, ITU and IEC standards from watering down the more precise and stringent European standards, to the detriment of SMEs. In such a context, associations such as EFESME and SBS can present experts to represent SMEs at international level.
- The Commission has recognised the importance of having standards that are readable and user-friendly, especially for SMEs. This is crucial, especially considering the cost of the standards themselves (which can run into hundreds of euros when one standard refers to others), and the sometimes unavailability of a translation into the national language. EFESME, with the support of SBS, has been fighting for years for these costs to be significantly lowered - greater user-friendliness to standards is certainly welcomed by our industry.
- In general, the text proposes a greater SMEs accessibility to the European standardisation process, both from a practical point of view (participation in meetings/participation of their representatives in decision-making processes), and from a documentation point of view (free access to the necessary documents). If well implemented, this decision would make it easier for technical experts to work, and for SMEs to be properly represented by their sectoral associations where it counts.
- The crucial importance of creating training pathways for technical experts, especially for SME, is crucial to open up interesting possibilities for training experts in standardisation. This has a very positive impact both on the possibility for SMEs to participate directly in the SSE, but also to strengthen their associations, such as EFESME and SBS.
Such positive aspects does not mean that, now, the ESS is easily accessible for SMEs from all sector, but it surely shows an even bigger interested and commitment on the EC side to involve all the stakeholders involved in the standardisation processes. But the intentions are good and set into the right decision, and EFESME welcomes this approach, with the firm conviction that this proposal has the potential to create a fairer ESS in which European SMEs and their experts can express their voices and opinions. As the European Federation supporting European lift SMEs, EFESME intends to seize this opportunity to obtain the best results and standards for our companies and workers.
In addition to the new EU Standardisation Strategy, there is also a proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 in order to ensure greater transparency regarding the decision-making processes within the ESOs, a fundamental aspect to guarantee the correct representation and participation of SMEs within European standardisation.
The EFESME secretariat is available for any questions or further information on this important issue.
- European Commission press release
- COM(2022) 31 - An EU Strategy on Standardisation (ENG, FR, DE)
- COM(2022) 32 - 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 (ENG, FR, DE)
- COM(2022) 30 - Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 from 2015 to 2020 (ENG)
- C(2022) 546 - Work programme and Annexes - The 2022 annual EU work programme for European standardisation
- Presentation by the Director-General of DG Grow, Mrs. Kerstin Jorna, to the European Parliament - IMCO Committee