14 February 2013 - At their meeting in Dublin this week, the European Standards Organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) agreed that they will maintain and intensify their collaboration with a view to aligning their standards, which is necessary in order to facilitate trade in both goods and services between Europe and the USA. This collaboration is set to become increasingly important as the European Union and United States are about to begin negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
The European Standards Organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) are involved in a regular and ongoing dialogue and exchange of information with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Their most recent meeting, hosted by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), took place in Dublin on 12 February 2013, during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU. Representatives from the European Commission, the secretariat of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the US Federal Government (Department of Commerce) also participated in these discussions.
In Dublin, the four standards organisations (ANSI, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) decided that they will take forward discussions on an agreement to facilitate action on standards related issues arising from the implementation of the proposed Trade Agreement between the European Union and the United States. In his State of the Union speech on 12 February, President Obama gave the green light for comprehensive trade talks between the EU and US, in order to boost growth and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
PHOTO: Participants of the ANSI-CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Meeting in Dublin on 12 February 2013 (© NSAI)
Whilst both the American and European standards organisations take care to seek global solutions wherever possible, including and in particular by working through the international standardization organisations ISO and IEC, there can be significant differences between standards in certain sectors. In many cases, these differences in standards result from differences in legislation and/or regulation between the European Economic Area (EEA) and the United States.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will aim to remove barriers to trade between the EU/EEA and the USA, and therefore it will be important to reduce any remaining differences between American and European standards in a number of sectors, and also to encourage a common approach, preferably at global level. The arrangements to be discussed between ANSI, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI will set out a clear approach to be taken in such cases, including a process to come to rapid common solutions, for instance on arrangements to align standards.
Joint efforts are already underway in many areas. For example, in Dublin there were discussions on alignment of the technical requirements of the main global standards concerning lifts/elevators, which stem originally from CEN and ASME. An action plan will now be taken forward to intensify collaboration on aligning standards, with the aim of reducing costs and enlarging markets for manufacturers.
The participants reviewed major developments in standardization in the EU and US, especially in the context of the regulatory frameworks governing standardization. There were also discussions to review progress in collaboration on Electric Vehicles and Smart Grids, and to consider new topics such as cloud computing, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and 'Smart Cities'. Finally, the meeting looked at the ways in which standards organisations on both sides of the Atlantic are encouraging and supporting the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in standardization activities.
Speaking on behalf of the European Standards Organisations, Dirk Weiler, Chairman of the ETSI General Assembly and current Chair of the CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Joint Presidents' Group, said: "Enhancing our collaboration with ANSI will enable us to accelerate the process of aligning our standards and overcome any outstanding technical issues. This will help to remove many of the remaining barriers to trade between America and Europe, which should be good for growth and jobs on both side of the Atlantic."
Ileana Martinez, Chair of ANSI’s Regional Standing Committee for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and co-chair of the ANSI-CEN-CENELEC-ETSI meeting in Dublin, added: "Standards are a vital tool for innovation and collaborating internationally and between regions on their development will help to ensure the best available climate for business, and thus ensure smooth access to global markets."
The meeting between ANSI, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI was followed by a conference on innovation and standards (on 13 February), organised by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).