Harmonised standards: Enhancing transparency and legal certainty for a fully functioning Single Market

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EESC opinion: Harmonised standards: Enhancing transparency and legal certainty for a fully functioning Single Market

Key points

The measures proposed by the Commission for a swifter adoption of harmonised standards would appear to take the right approach and are broadly acceptable. On the other hand, more could be done in the area of transparency and inclusion, as there are still very many stakeholders who are potentially interested in the standardisation process but who in practice do not participate in it. This constraint is clearly reflected in the EU’s difficulty in systematically defending its standards internationally in International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) negotiations.

The Committee therefore reiterates its call for greater support for stakeholder involvement, including by strengthening and better publicising the financial instruments already available (H2020). To this end, this funding should be maintained and, if possible, increased in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027). The same recommendation applies to funding for the stakeholders referred to in Annex III of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012. In addition, in order to make the standardisation process more inclusive, the EESC confirms its willingness to host an annual multi-stakeholder forum to assess the progress made in this regard, as well as facilitating exchange of good practices between different production sectors.

The EESC believes that the initiatives already put in place by the Commission to deal with the backlog in developing standards are showing encouraging signs. However, it is clear that some key sectors, such as the digital sector, are still showing signs of serious delays in sensitive areas, such as the blockchain, which have a cross-cutting impact on the lives of all citizens, businesses and workers. The EESC therefore calls on the Commission to draw up increasingly specific work programmes with clear, well-defined time frames. Moreover, it awaits with interest the outcome of the economic and social impact assessment on standardisation, and hopes that it will also properly take into due account indirect aspects such as employment levels and worker safety.

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