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Brussels, 10 August 2021 – In May, the European Commission announced the publication of a new Standardisation Strategy in support of EU’s strategic autonomy and fundamental policy objectives for the third quarter of 2021. Small Business Standards (SBS), the association representing European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in standardisation, yesterday published a position paper highlighting the main points to be considered to ensure the future strategy meets SME needs.
Recognising standards’ major role in supporting economic growth and competitiveness, the European Commission announced as one of the key initiatives of the updated industrial strategy published in May the development of a Standardisation Strategy. The Commission published a roadmap and opened a consultation in June to gather input from stakeholders on the issues to be addressed in the future strategy.
According to the paper published by SBS, SMEs can significantly contribute to achieving the EU economic recovery and digital and green transition goals. But in order to achieve these goals, it is essential that the right environment, also regarding standardisation, is created. The paper includes a series of aspects that need to be included in the future strategy from the small business perspective.
For SBS, one of the main objectives of the future strategy should be to improve the development, assessment and citation of harmonised standards. The timely development and citation of European harmonised standards is essential for SMEs to facilitate their compliance with EU legal requirements.
Inclusiveness should be the underpinning principle of the strategy to guarantee the effective participation of all stakeholders, including SMEs, in the standardisation system at national, EU and international level. Inclusiveness is an essential principle of the European Standardisation Regulation (1025/2012) which, according to SBS, does not need a revision but rather a more effective implementation.
The strategy should propose and further promote actions to improve inclusiveness. In this context, the strategy should support the development of tools to monitor standards and be able to identify those that are particularly relevant for SMEs. It should also promote tools such as the CEN-CENELEC Guide 17 or the SBS SME Compatibility Test for Standards to ensure a better uptake of standards among SMEs which is an enabling condition for a successful twin transition.
In relation to the ambition outlined by the roadmap to increase European influence in international standardisation, SBS stresses that it should be accompanied by the necessary resources. Since European standards are increasingly being developed at international level, the application of inclusiveness at this scale remains an important challenge.
A last focal point SBS recommends the Commission to take onboard is a stronger focus on the uptake of standards rather than on the pre-normative and development phases. Funding and support schemes should be made available to help SMEs with the implementation of standards. SME associations, such as SBS, are also well placed to support the development of practical guides supporting the implementation of standards. The comments from SBS also stress the need to ensure the availability of standards in the national language and special favourable pricing schemes for SMEs.
Welcoming the Commission’s initiative, SBS Director Maitane Olabarria stated: “The contribution of SBS to the development of this strategy is essential in ensuring that it is aligned with the needs of smaller businesses. A well-functioning European Standardisation system that considers the 23 million Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Europe is key to achieve the EU recovery and policy goals.”
SBS position can be consulted via the following link.