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STANDARDISATION : RAPPORTEUR WANTS TO SEE STAKEHOLDERS MORE CLOSELY INVOLVED.

The standardisation process needs to be improved but not completely overhauled, says Lara Comi (EPP, Italy), rapporteur on European standardisation. It also needs to be more open and include stakeholders more closely, she said as she presented her text to the Committee on Internal Market and Consumers (IMCO), on 25 January. This report will be Parliament's response to the standardisation package proposed by the Commission, on 1 June 2011, with the aim of revising the existing EU framework. The idea is to develop more European standards that meet new social and economic needs more quickly.

The standardisation process is the result of voluntary cooperation by industry, the public powers - national and European - and other stakeholders through a system that operates relatively well and helps ensure the free movement of goods in the single market and helps boost the competitiveness of EU companies. European standards developed in this context also contribute to protection of European consumers' health and safety, and to environmental protection.

Revision of the European standardisation system includes legislative and non-legislative measures and is intended to remedy certain shortcomings, such as the length of the standards development process, the lack of involvement of companies or member states or the fact that standards systems are essentially focused on products and not enough on services, which represent a constantly increasing share of the economy. The EU executive considers that, in areas where Europe is innovative (electric vehicles, energy efficiency), a promptly developed European standard will become established as an international standard, giving an advantage to the European precursor. In some sectors where interoperability allowed by standards is crucial, like health or e-government, standardisation processes need to be speeded up and modernised.

Parliament adopted, on 21 October 2010, a resolution based on the report by Edvard Kozusnik (CRE, Czech Republic) that defended an approach aimed at adjusting the current system rather than conducting the in-depth reform sought by the Commission. The executive's proposals take partially into account the message from Parliament, and Comi finds that they are "a good working basis".

SMES NOT REPRESENTED ENOUGH

She would nevertheless like to see certain points reinforced, such as stakeholder participation and governance of the standardisation system. Comi defends the idea that "the current system does not sufficiently include stakeholders like consumers or environmental defence groups in the standardisation process". She finds that SMEs are not represented in proportion to their economic clout and that they should be given a greater say at national level in the national standardisation bodies. Representatives of SMEs, like UEAPME and the European Builders Confederation, disagree, arguing that it is at European level that they could have greater leverage effect.

The rapporteur also advocates the creation of a platform of stakeholders and development of the exchange of good practices between member states, as well as greater participation by new players like national research centres, which she says are underestimated. She would also like to boost the participation of member state representatives in the standardisation process.

On the controversial question of including standards for services, proposed by the Commission, the rapporteur considers that only specific sectors should be concerned and only if this meets the general interest.

Comi also intends to limit standards in the area of information and communication technologies (ICT) to duly authorised bodies and to draw up new rules for technical specifications established by forums or consortiums.
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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Feb 3, 2012
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