How can standards help the Single Market meet the challenges of the future? This question was at the heart of the conference “Standards meet the future”, which took place on Friday, 12 October in Centre Albert Borschette in Brussels. The one-day conference was jointly organised by the three European Standardization Organisations (ESOs), CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, together with the European Commission (EC) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in the framework of the World Standards Day 2018 (#WSD 2018) and of the 25th Anniversary of the European Single Market.
The conference was opened by a series of statements by legislators (EC and EFTA) and standardizers (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) on the contribution of standardization to the Single Market. Joaquim Nunes de Almeida, Director Single Market Policy, Regulation and Implementation at European Commission’s DG GROW (Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) opened the day by praising the European standardization model for its inclusiveness and highlighted “the depth of [this] public-private-partnership and the strength of the European model of standardisation”. He also announced that the European Commission’s Annual Work Programme on European Standardization for 2019 had been recently published. The same message was shared by his homologue Gerard De Graaf, Director Digital Single Market at DG CNECT (Communications Networks, Content and Technology), who recognised the challenges the digital world brings to the current and future standardization work.
Brit Helle, Director of the Internal Market Division at EFTA, highlighted the importance of standards for the European economy and the Single Market stating that “standardization is like good housekeeping: if it is done well, nobody notices it. But when it is not done, serious problems ensue”.
Ruggero Lensi, Vice-President Technical at CEN, stressed the role of standards in ensuring global market access, and noted that “the European standardization model is a recognised model of excellence in the world economy”. Dr Bernhard Thies, CENELEC’s President, indicated some of the future challenges awaiting standardization, such as servitisation, digitalisation and the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT). Finally, Dirk Weiler, Chairman of the ETSI’s Board, highlighted once more the importance of cooperation in the digital economy, presenting the European Commission’s multi-stakeholder platform for ICT standardization as a successful tool.
The opening speeches were followed by three panel discussions with representatives of the industry, stakeholders organizations and standardization bodies which discussed the past, the present and the future of the European standardization system (read the full programme).
The first panel, ‘Standards powering the industrial revolution over time’, presented a series of success stories from lifts, toys, mobility and smart cards where standards contributed to making the Single Market a reality and the European industrial ecosystem competitive, while also providing the consumers’ perspective.
In the second panel, 'Standards shape the present - the 4th industrial revolution in progress', panellists discussed how standards can support innovation in the digital world, meet challenges such as interoperability and compatibility, as well as foster market access. The panellists gave an overview of ongoing work to make the Digital Single Market resilient on issues such as smart homes, broadband technology, cybersecurity and privacy.
Finally, the third panel ‘Towards the next Industrial Revolution’, addressed how the European standardization process can be fit for the future. Panellists considered how standardization can answer ever increasing horizontal needs, and provide solutions in a global environment of rapid changes and open innovation.
The key messages which emergecad from the debate on how European Standards ‘can meet the future’ were:
- General agreement on the strength and success of the European Standardization System, based on consensus reached by a variety of stakeholders.
- A complex environment created by digitalisation, where borders between sectors are increasingly blurred, and standardization bridges vertical work with increased collaboration across all sectors.
- Internationalisation is key: standardization needs to “think global” from the start, and wherever possible, cooperation with ISO and IEC should be enhanced, not only on products standardization, but also on services and systems.
The one-day conference was closed by Max Lemke, Head of Unit CNECT/ - Technologies & systems for digitising industries at the European Commission, who presented how the European Commission is working to foster the digitization of the European Industry and the role of standardization in it.
The conference was also the occasion for the official launch of the new eLearning tool on standardization realised by CEN, CENELEC, ANEC, ETUC and ECOS. This free online course aims to explain the complex world of standards in clear and simple terms, and is designed to be used by everyone at their own pace.
If you were not able to participate in the “Standards meet the future” conference, the web stream is now available on the EC website.
Download the presentations:
For more information, please contact Sarah Penny