On 16 November 2021, SBS President Gunilla Almgren was invited to make a statement on behalf of Small Business Standards at the European Commission and ESOs' Task Force workshop “Timely delivery of European standards for a Green and Digital, Single and Global Market”.
Amongst others, Ms Almgren stated that harmonised standards are an important tool for SMEs. To be able to keep their competitiveness and scale-up, SMEs need up to date standards that allow them to benefit from the presumption of conformity with EU legal requirements. SMEs heavily rely on the availability of standards to show the conformity of their products with EU legislation, since using an alternative to standards would often be too costly for them.
The timely delivery of European Standards also means that a solution should be found to better anticipate future standardisation needs, including possible new standards related to new legislative proposals. Nevertheless, practical experience also shows that in some cases the time gained by working in parallel was then needed to adapt the draft standards due to changes in requirements. It is important to find an appropriate approach to anticipate needs without having to re-do the work. To this respect, SBS would like to highlight three key aspects:
- Firstly, it is essential to ensure a close dialogue with Standards Bodies, the Commission and stakeholders at an early stage to identify the needed standards when new ore amended legislation is proposed. Sometimes new standards are needed but other times the right standard already exists or existing standards should just be adapted to consider new aspects rather than creating new ones. This aspect must be carefully considered when issuing Standardisation Requests. Having effective tools to monitor existing developments and carrying out gap analysis are also important aspects.
- Secondly, Standardisation Requests should provide a certain flexibility so that it is not necessary to go through the whole procedure to be able to amend them in case of changes through the legislative process or need for adjustment.
- Finally, it is important new/amended legislation provides for realistic transitional periods to ensure the standards supporting their implementation are available.