A European standard model

Standardization bodies like CEN and CENELEC continue to play a vital role not only in powering the Single Market, but also in Europe’s recovery and transition to green and digital future, says Director General Elena Santiago Cid
ADOBE STOCK

By CEN and CENELEC

21 Sep 2021

HOW HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED THE WORK OF CEN AND CENELEC ON EUROPEAN STANDARDS?

Since the beginning, CEN and CENELEC have worked tirelessly to provide actionable solutions to the crisis. For example, European standards were key instruments for speeding up production and supporting alternative production lines of personal protective equipment and medical devices.

Our experts developed in record time common guidelines on community masks to protect citizens, and our efforts continue as we move from fighting the emergency to engineering the recovery. The effectiveness of our response demonstrates the strength and agility of the European Standardization System (ESS).

Thanks to a well established public-private partnership with industry, civil society and the European Commission, based on trust, consensus, transparency and a single standard model, we are contributing to Europe’s recovery.

HOW CAN STANDARDS SUPPORT EUROPE’S RECOVERY?

Standards are crucial for a robust and resilient economy. Today, European standards, adopted in 34 countries, power the Single Market by helping to ensure that we have common levels of safety, security and sustainability while reducing compliance costs and increasing the competitiveness of the European Industry. Strengthening the Single Market, while sustaining the Twin Green and Digital Transition, is essential for driving further economic growth across the 14 industrial ecosystems identified by the European Commission’s Industrial Strategy. Here, European standards can be instrumental for European businesses and society.


“Today, European standards, adopted identically in 34 countries, power the Single Market by helping to ensure that we have common levels of safety, security and sustainability”


They help innovations scale-up and access the market, contribute to the safe adoption of new technologies, allow European goods and services to enter and lead global markets, and foster the acquisition of new skills and knowledge.

WHAT MAKES EUROPEAN STANDARDIZATION UNIQUE IN THE WORLD?

European standardization builds consensus through the trust and expertise of all stakeholders. Its effectiveness is optimal when combined with the New Legislative Framework, a regulatory tool for “market-driven” industry engagement which is innovation-friendly and inclusive. 

Through this system, having one single standard adopted by all our members, instead of 34 conflicting national standards, across the Single Market fosters the free circulation of safe, secure and sustainable goods and services throughout Europe.

At the same time, Europe cannot grow in isolation. We are committed to making Europe strongerin the world, ensuring international reciprocity and protecting Europe’s interests and values. For this reason, we are working closely with international standardization organisations, such as ISO and IEC, to prioritise international standards strengthening Europe’s standing.

CEN AND CENELEC RECENTLY DEVELOPED THEIR NEW STRATEGY 2030. WHAT ARE ITS DRIVERS?

The CEN and CENELEC Strategy 2030 is the result of a reflection on how European standardization can put the continent on a path to recovery and resilience.

It is built around five goals that will guide our workover the next ten years to build a safer, more sustainable and competitive Europe through standardization and support the EU’s transformative ambitions. Our Strategy is also a collective exercise.

As a joint strategic framework developed in the background of the twin Digital and Green transitions, the CEN and CENELEC Strategy 2030 will provide a frame of reference to ensure coherence and consistency across the long-term objectives of all our community.

WHAT PRIORITY AREAS ARE CEN AND CENELEC CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

CEN and CENELEC are involved in a wide range of different sectors, with a portfolio of almost 24,000 standards active across all 14 Industrial Strategy ecosystems. For example, recently we have been more active in areas that require 
cross-sectoral and horizontal expertise, like digital transformation, where European standards can help reap the benefits and reduce the risks of new technologies. We are particularly involved in cybersecurity and AI, with the recent establishment of a dedicated Technical Committee (JTC 21) and a workshop agreement dealing with digital sovereignty.

Another key area is sustainability, where we are developing standards on sectors as varied as Ecodesign, Circular Economy, hydrogen and batteries.. Through a horizontal approach, we are embedding climate and environmental considerations into all our work to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the European Green Deal objectives.

HOW DO YOU JUDGE THE COOPERATION WITH THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS ON STANDARDIZATION, AND HOW DO YOU THINK IT SHOULD EVOLVE?

As CEN and CENELEC, we are proud to see that a common understanding has emerged with the European institutions on the value of the European Standardization System, with it playing a central role in many strategic initiatives such as the EU’s Trade Policy and the new Industrial Strategy. This understanding is crucial for the review of the European Standardization Strategy, expected this autumn, which we are contributing to and count on being part of.

“Standardization will play an even bigger role in making Europe competitive and sustainable”

A fundamental issue we must improve is the timely citation of harmonised standards (hENs) in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU). To do this, we have established a joint task force with the Commission, with two essential objectives.

The first concerns strategic alignment of European policies, business priorities and standardization. We must walk in the same direction to ensure EU policies build on European business assets and innovations and that industry engages and supports policy priorities.

The second is more operational and consists of eliminating bottlenecks in the current standards OJEU lifecycle.  Reducing the overall timeframe and allowing European economic actors, in particular SMEs, to enjoy presumption of conformity, reduces compliance costs and fosters competitiveness without jeopardising the essential public interest requirements imposed by European legislation.

To improve the public-private partnership that characterises the European standardization system, we are reconsidering priorities, creating more awareness of standards and benefiting from our respective know-how to exploit opportunities offered by the Green and Digital transition.

The idea of a revitalised partnership as the foundation of a consistent and ambitious European standardization strategy is vibrant. Standardization will play an even bigger role in making Europe competitive and sustainable, and we look forward to collaborating with the European institutions and all our partners in making Europe a global standards leader. 


This content was commissioned by CEN and CENELEC and produced by Dods


This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group

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