The European Commission has outlined plans to modernise and accelerate the way it sets technical standards for services, saying it will set up a joint initiative on standardisation (JIS), a group made up of standardisation bodies, member states, small businesses, trade unions and consumer and environmental organisations, to work on speeding up the development of standards.
This could result in new standards in a range of sectors such as healthcare, the environment, financial services, trade and education.
Standard-setting for digital technologies will fall into JIS’s remit, beefing up the proposal in April by the EU executive to speed up standards development in five areas of 5G wireless networks, cloud computing, the internet of things, data technologies and cyber security.
The latest plan recommends that JIS focus on services, which account for around three-quarters of the EU economy, with the Commission arguing that standards on services will make it easier for small companies to sell products to more countries. Brussels says it receives complaints about how national service standards and certification schemes restrain trade across Europe.
Jyrki Katainen, Commission vice-president for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said, "If we want the European market to have the first-mover advantage, we need to speed up and better prioritise standard setting across the board. With today’s standardisation package, we are helping raise competitiveness, power innovation and create a predictable and stable investment framework in the EU."
While standards are considered crucial for economic growth, because they push industries to develop compatible products and reduce investor uncertainty, there can also be a cost associated with compliance.
EU regulators have already set some 20,000 European voluntary and market-driven standards covering such things as the size of envelopes and mobile phones.