The ‘CEN Strategic Advisory Board on Services (CEN/SAGS)’ has recently developed a ‘Strategic Plan on Services standardization’ in support of CEN-CENELEC Ambitions 2020, and in recognition of the untapped potential for economic growth of the services market in Europe. The plan is addressed to service sector stakeholders, societal stakeholders and National Standards Bodies (NSBs) members of CEN.

The overall aim of the plan is to provide a strong and clear framework to further engage with service stakeholders in view of better understanding their needs.

It is part of the actions agreed under the ‘Joint Initiative on Standardisation’ (JIS), namely Action 12, which refers to encouraging a greater development & usage of European service standards to help integrate Europe’s service markets. The strategy also builds on the Commission staff’s working document on ‘European service standardization’ that was published on 1 June 2016, as part of the Commission Standardisation package.

Services is a relatively new field of standardization dominated by a significant number of SMEs. Service stakeholders are not always aware of the benefits that standards could bring to both businesses and consumers. This Strategic plan aims to raise awareness about standardization for services.

European Standards can indeed make services more secure, accessible and inclusive for vulnerable consumers, as well as help organisations to manage complex service relationships, global supply chains and service level agreements.

While elaborating this Strategic Plan, a series of challenges in the European services’ standardization were identified. They relate to the diversity of the services market and to the difficulty in reaching a common understanding about services standardization. Constraints such as the heterogeneity of the services sector, the cultural barriers and the limited resources - linked to the variety of stakeholders involved especially SMEs and micro-enterprises, makes it somewhat difficult to reach a balanced consensus of interests.

To this end, the service sectors’ associations can play an important intermediary role to help their members represent their expertise.

CEN members showed full commitment in implementing the Action Plan by focusing on a series of new initiatives to have a dialogue with EU businesses and explain the benefits of standardization.

Download the ‘Strategic Plan on services standardization’ (PDF format)