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Commission plan to make standardisation in the Single Market more efficient

22 November 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 22 November 2018

The European Commission on 22 November presented an action plan to enhance efficiency, transparency and legal certainty in the development of harmonised standards for a fully functioning Single Market.


Largely voluntary and industry-driven standards - from the A4 paper size to 5G technology via airbags - reduce costs, promote innovation, ensure interoperability between different devices and services, and help companies to access markets. The EU has harmonised standards in a range of areas such as chemicals, construction products, cosmetics, toy safety, medical devices and packaging. With the actions presented today, the Commission responds to the demands of stakeholders and acts to ensure that the European standardisation system meets the challenges of rapidly evolving technological developments, emerging economic trends and growth models while promoting synergies with international and global standards.

The Communication provides an overview of the functioning of the European standardisation system, takes stock of the initiatives launched in recent years and presents four key actions that the Commission will immediately undertake to enhance the efficiency, transparency and legal certainty for the actors involved in the development of harmonised standards:

  • Eliminate, as rapidly as possible, the remaining backlog of harmonised standards that are not yet published in the Official Journal of the European Union,
  • Streamline internal decision making processes, in particular the decision ofpublishing the references to harmonised standards in the Official Journal,
  • Elaborate a guidance document on practical aspects of implementing the Standardisation Regulation,
  • Reinforce, on an on-going basis, the system of consultants to support swift and robust assessments of harmonised standards and timely publication in the Official Journal.

The Commission says it will continue to work with all relevant partners to ensure the continued success of European standardisation as a cornerstone of a fully functioning Single Market.

The action plan goes hand in hand with the Communication on the Single Market and the Communication on a better investment environment in Europe, which provide a fresh assessment of the remaining barriers and opportunities for a fully functioning Single Market.

A harmonised standard is a European standard developed by a recognised European Standards Organisation following a request from the European Commission. These standards become part of EU law and, when used, provide manufacturers across the Single Market with a presumption of conformity with the requirements of EU legislation. This in turn provides important legal certainty to users while allowing small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to place products in compliance with EU legislation on the market without additional costs.

The European standardisation system is based on a public-private-partnership between the Commission and the standardisation community. The Standardisation Regulation, which came into force in 2013, introduced a new division of roles and responsibilities of the actors in the system. It also provides a strong framework for inclusiveness requirements, allowing interests of small and medium-sized enterprises, consumers and workers, as well as environmental interests to be taken into consideration in the standardisation process.

Communication on Harmonised Standards

Source: European Commission

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