Standards build trust in the Single Market

Building a strong and reliable Europe starts with trust, writes Elena Santiago Cid.
| Photo credit: CEN and CENELEC

By Elena Santiago Cid

Elena Santiago Cid is director general of CEN and CENELEC

31 Jan 2020

Building a strong and reliable Europe starts with trust. As one of the EU’s greatest achievements, the Single Market is the world’s largest market for goods, capital, services and people.

It removes obstacles to trade within the EU and allows European businesses to compete on the global stage.

In short, it takes a strong Single Market to produce a strong and globally-competitive European economy.


Trust is a core element for the Single Market and European standards play a central role.

Having one single standard, created with the consensus of all interested parties and adopted across the European Market, instead of 34 national conflicting standards, helps significantly to ensure that we have common levels of safety, security and sustainability.

Our commitment to international standardisation reduces trade barriers and fosters job creation and economic growth both within Europe and across the world. It is the shared mission of the three European Standardization Organizations (ESOs), CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, to develop standards that are fi t for purpose.

The European Standardization System (ESS) that we use is unique in its ability to make sure that all stakeholder views are taken into account, including those of businesses and societal organisations of all sizes, as well as market and sustainability needs.

“Trust is a core element for the Single Market and European standards play a central role”

This system works in partnership with the European Institutions and ensures that the process is transparent and involves all relevant parties.

European standards are market-driven, and, to ensure that European policies and legislation are implemented smoothly, the European Commission may ask the ESOs to produce harmonised standards. These harmonised standards (hENs) make up around a quarter of all European standards.

Once their reference is cited in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU), all users complying with a hEN benefit from a presumption of conformity with the related EU legislation, reducing the cost of compliance and guaranteeing high levels of safety, security and sustainability.

As Director General of CEN and CENELEC, I am pleased to see the commitment of the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to strengthening the Single Market. CEN and CENELEC will always support this effort.

A robust and well-functioning European standardisation system, based on a trustworthy public-private partnership, can help us meet many of the challenges facing Europe today, whether it is the transition to a circular economy or the ability to compete in a digitalised and innovation-based economic system.

In order to make the ESS successful and reap its benefits, the rapid citation of hENs in the OJEU is essential as it can help us avoid administrative burdens and let us focus on innovation.

The yearly publication of an Annual Union Work Programme on standardisation and the reference to standards in the recently-presented Green Deal show the importance that the European Institutions give this issue.

We are committed to an effective and fit-for-purpose European standardisation system that builds trust and equality into the Single Market.

Read the most recent articles written by Elena Santiago Cid - Setting standards for Europe's recovery