Brussels/Ljubljana, 1 July 2021 - After the emergency of the COVID-19 crisis, now it is time for Europe to recover and deliver on its pledge to achieve a resilient, green, and digital economy for the benefit of all its citizens. To meet this objective, European standards play a key role. CEN and CENELEC are on the frontline to contribute to the ambitions of the new Slovenian Presidency of the EU.
CEN and CENELEC welcome the new Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, which officially started on 1 July. The current large-scale health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Member States and, therefore, requires a collective, long-term response at the EU level. That is why Slovenia, under the motto "Together. Resilient. Europe", has put these ideas at the core of its Presidency so that it may strengthen the resilience and strategic autonomy of the European Union.
As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have shown, European Standards (ENs) are an effective tool for powering Europe’s recovery and contribute to its strategic (and technological) autonomy: the flexibility and openness of the European Standardization System make it fit to address different challenges in many relevant areas, from the twin green and digital transition to making Europe more resilient.
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), and their Slovenian National Member, the Slovenian Institute for Standardization (SIST), highlight the essential contribution that European standards make to the long-term growth and resilience of Europe and are eager to work with the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the upcoming six months.
In particular, European standardization can provide valuable support to some of the priorities on which the Slovenian Presidency will work:
- Health. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, CEN and CENELEC were on the frontline to provide actionable solutions to the whole of Europe. Whether it was providing European standards on key PPEs and medical devices available free-of-charge or developing in record time a Workshop Agreement with guidelines for community masks, the European Standardization System has demonstrated its resilience and readiness to provide relevant expertise. Based on the available expertise and resources, CEN and CENELEC are committed to enhancing the strategic autonomy of Europe in the field of health, contributing to the establishment of a Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
- Digital transformation and new technologies. The CEN and CENELEC communities are committed to help Europe reap the benefits and reduce the risks of new technologies, such as AI, IoT and 5G, towards the goal of establishing a fully functioning digital market for services. Among CEN and CENELEC’s efforts regarding digitalisation and new technologies are the establishment of dedicated technical committees like CEN-CLC/JTC 19 on Blockchain and DLTs, and the continued focus on work in cybersecurity and activities for an ethical AI. Through our joint efforts, we are looking forward to supporting the Slovenian Presidency on the next steps.
- Sustainability. The commitment of European standardization to the Green Transition is long-standing: as an example, two dedicated bodies, the CEN-CENELEC Strategic Advisory Body for Environment (SABE) and CENELEC/TC 111X ‘Environment’ have been set up to ensure that environmental considerations are always taken into account in standardization work. Furthermore, CEN and CENELEC published a policy paper highlighting how standards support the Green Deal commitments.
- A recovery that works for SMEs. SMEs are an important part of the European economy: they represent 99% of all businesses of the EU, are responsible for more than half of Europe’s GDP, and they have been among the hardest hit by the COVID crisis.
For this reason, there can be no recovery without SMEs. The standardization community is aware of their value: European standards help SMEs to increase productivity and reach wider markets. For this reason, CEN, CENELEC and their national members are working to enhance the participation of SMEs in the standardization process and provide them with information, tools and support in order to contribute to a fair and inclusive recovery for the whole of Europe.
- Safe tourism. With summer finally here, one of the priorities for the whole of Europe is to get back to travel. After all, the tourism and hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic: ensuring that tourism can re-open safely and quickly is another challenge for Europe’s recovery. In order to ease the process, CEN recently made available the 'European Tourism COVID-19 Safety Seal', which can improve safety procedures in tourism businesses and increase the trust of travellers and tourists who choose the EU as a destination.
As part of the wider reflection on how to better support Europe’s growth, CEN and CENELEC recently published their joint Strategy 2030. This important document, structured around five goals, guides the work of CEN, CENELEC and their 43 national Members over the next ten years, and will ensure that the European Standardization System is fit for a green and digital future.
“The European Standardization System is based on a voluntary and inclusive approach, which has already, in many ways, shown its strength in supporting the EU’s policy priorities”, commented Elena Santiago Cid, CEN and CENELEC’s Director General. ”The standardization community is ready to engage, in the full spirit of the New Legislative Framework, to ensure Europe’s sustained recovery and long-term resilience: CEN and CENELEC are ready to engage with the Slovenian Presidency to help Europe deliver on its promises”.
“As a full member of European and international standardization, SIST follows the European and international legislation closely. By ensuring the national standardization infrastructure and maintaining the Slovenian national standards, the majority of which are adopted European standards, it represents an important national pillar that helps and supports national businesses in their endeavours to compete in the European market as well as globally. The analysis of the use of standards and their impact on the operation of Slovenian companies that was carried out in the framework of SIST strategy 2030 has shown that regardless of their size and exports orientation, Slovenian companies need and use standards on daily basis”, noted Marjetka Strle Vidali, General Director of SIST.
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