Standards and the Single Market, a solution to the COVID-19 crisis?  

The COVID-19 crisis has hit hard on the European economy. Yet, to address the downturn and foster a sustained recovery, the EU has a hidden weapon to deploy: the Single Market.

Indeed, the series of measures taken by the European Commission, such as re-instating the free circulation of goods and essential services, the lifting of national export bans on medical supplies, and the joint EU public procurement of medical equipment has shown its centrality.

In this context, standardization has provided an important contribution: working closely together with the European Commission, CEN, CENELEC and their Members made a series of standards available free of charge to help bolster the production of desperately needed medical supplies.

The way out of the crisis should start with acknowledging this role and strengthening the Single Market. But how can this happen? And what is the role of standards in contributing to a fast and sustainable recovery?

This discussion was at the centre of the, high-level, online event: “The Single Market and standardisation: Key assets in the post-COVID-19 recovery”, organised by EPC on 26th May, based on its recently published paper “Europe’s hidden weapon in combatting COVID-19: The Single Market”.

The event saw Elena SANTIAGO CID, CEN and CENELEC’s Director General, exchange with Kerstin JORNA, DG GROW’s Director General, and Petra DE SUTTER, MEP, Chair of the European Parliament IMCO’s Committee, on the role of the Single Market and standardization in Europe’s recovery.

Elena SANTIAGO CID opened the discussion by highlighting standards for goods and services as an answer to overcome fragmentation and facilitate the functioning of the Single Market. She pointed at how standards create trust among consumers – a key aspect to guarantee recovery and guarantee investments. For this reason, Ms Santiago stated that it is “essential for standardization to support the recovery plan”.

Kerstin JORNA presented the Commission’s holistic approach based on “industrial ecosystems”, each one calling for specific solution. She remarked that only a strategy acknowledging the complexity across all sectors will allow to achieve resilience across the board.

Petra DE SUTTER agreed with the need to act strategically, highlighting the importance and opportunity: “to save the Single Market”. Nevertheless, she pointed out that this is not only a technical decision, but a political one. This decision is most evident in the Single Market for services, which still lags behind.

 “The tools are there: Standards are key to help the European Commission achieve its priorities, and we have shown it in the past”, concluded Mrs SANTIAGO CID. “What we need is political support”.

The full event recording is available on EPC’s website.

For more information, please contact Whitney CLARK.