Standardization, a major player in the implementation of the European Green Deal  

Standardization is an important tool to complement national and European policies, because of its voluntary nature and its consensus-building approach between different economic players. CEN and CENELEC have been working for many years in collaboration with the Commission and other stakeholders to develop and adopt standards in support of numerous European initiatives and policies, including – but not limited to - sustainability. By providing new voluntary rules allowing, for example, the optimisation of the energy efficiency of products and systems, standards take an active part in the transition towards a greener economy.

The Green Deal is committed to using standardization in order to facilitate the transformation of our society. It is indeed what CEN and the CENELEC intend to contribute to in the years to come. The exchange of knowledge and good practices generated though the close links of CEN and CENELEC with their international counterparts, ISO and IEC, is a major asset for the development of standards in support of the Green Deal. This collaboration avoids the duplication of work and helps streamline and focus efforts in the areas where they are most appropriate. Furthermore, it allows to transition from a fragmented normative approach to a harmonised one.

In a world characterised by constant change, it is increasingly necessary not only to manage the present, but above all to imagine and define the future. This requires standardization to be creative and forward-looking. It is therefore essential to ensure that innovative technologies are integrated into standardization, as soon as possible after they are developed. To this end, CEN and CENELEC are consistently engaged in adapting their approaches and sometimes even their procedures to ensure a more systematic inclusion of the outcome of research into standardization work. Ensuring this integration is and will remain a priority.

The Green Deal also emphasises that the digitalisation of all sectors of the European economy will facilitate its decarbonisation. Digitalisation is one of CEN and CENELEC priorities for the future, with the development and implementation of a Strategic Plan for Digital Transformation. This does not only consist of evolving the standardization process, but also of developing the standards supporting the digital transition of the economy. We are making every possible effort to adapt our standardization system to the digital age. CEN and CENELEC have already been, for some time, developing standards in support of the various European initiatives on the circular economy (such as the Circular Action Plan published in 2015). They also received in recent years several Standardization Requests on the part of the European Commission on the subject. These include the Standardization Request concerning Ecodesign requirements on material efficiency aspects for energy-related products (M/543), as a result of which several standards have been developed. For example, the standard EN 45555:2019 ‘General methods for assessing the recyclability and recoverability of energy-related products’, published last November. This generic standard allows to assess the recyclability and recoverability of energy-related products and provides guidelines to write standards specific to these products in a harmonised manner.

Other Standardization Requests on the circular economy are under development and are expected to arrive in the coming months. Standards constitute therefore an important link between legislation and its implementation. CEN and CENELEC have put in place an engagement plan with the European institutions and policy-makers through the Declaration "Standards build trust”. This initiative aims to make decision-makers aware of the benefits of standardization and its role in helping the implementation of new policy priorities, like the Green Deal.

In this regard, CEN and CENELEC are keen to increase their already close collaboration with ISO and IEC in order to enable all stakeholders to continue working on a level playing field. The search for global solutions to support the Green Deal is important in an increasingly globalised economy. Through its international links, European standardization allows the development of synergies and new transversal areas of expertise.

CEN and CENELEC are engaged in continuing developing standards necessary to improve the performances of products, in order to guarantee a safer and cleaner planet by improving the lives of citizens and supporting the competitiveness of European industries.

For more information, please contact Cinzia MISSIROLI.

This article is the English translation of an interview with Cinzia Missiroli, CEN and CENELEC’s Director for Standardization and Digital Solutions, originally published in French on the May 2020 of Enjeux, the magazine of AFNOR (page 47), available at this link.