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Standards and SMEs
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and craft enterprises are a very important part of the European economy, accounting for 99.8% of all businesses, 66.5% of all jobs and 57.6% of value added. Standardisation is increasingly seen as a bridge between research, innovation and the market, and as a means of capturing and disseminating knowledge and, therefore, can make a positive contribution to economy, growth and prosperity at a time when Europe needs more innovation in order to remain competitive on the global stage. Every year more than 1000 European standards are adopted.
However, not only do many stakeholders find it extremely complex to take part in the standardisation system, but they are also very often not even aware of the great importance standards have for their trade and daily activities. The main problems are lack of information on new standards, little knowledge of standards to be applied, proper understanding and applying of standards, obtaining certificates of compliance with standards and inability to take part in drafting new standards.
In its report "The future of European Standardisation", the European Parliament stresses that SMEs, although they represent an essential part of the European market, are not adequately involved in the standardisation system and cannot, therefore, exploit entirely the benefits derived from standardisation. The European Parliament regarded it as essential to improve the SME representation and participation in the system.
At the end of 2012, the European Institutions adopted Regulation 1025/2012 to reorganize overall rules regarding the European standardisation process in order to encourage an appropriate representation of all relevant stakeholders, including SMEs. The European Commission also committed to financially and politically supporting the establishment of key stakeholders’ associations lacking representation in the standardisation system.
SBS is a European association (AISBL) under Belgian law, following a call for proposals from the European Commission. Its purpose is to provide adequate expertise to SMEs and European coverage for SMEs in the standardization system. Small Business Standards (SBS) is a response to the desire of the EU to make the standardization system as inclusive, transparent and open as possible, enhancing stakeholder participation "weak" which include SMEs. SBS aims to defend the position of SMEs in the European standardization process.