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Objective: Uniform standards from Lisbon to Vladivostok

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While the European Union and Russia are already strong trading partners, differences in standards still prevent truly unfettered bilateral trade. To remedy these differences and unleash the potential of this partnership, European standardisation authorities and Russia signed a landmark agreement that will promote cooperation and enable easier, more profitable trade.

Divergent standards are frustrating for consumers and businesses alike, but they can cause even greater headaches when they happen on a larger scale. Entire companies, or even entire industries, might be unable to sell their products abroad because of differences in domestic and international standards.

In order to avoid such issues, the European Commission helped orchestrate a landmark agreement between the European Union and Russia. The agreement will promote bilateral cooperation and help remove barriers to trade caused by different standards.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani has long touted the importance of cooperation with third countries. This emphasis has led to breakthroughs such as the Europe-China Standards Information Platform (CESIP), which established an online database of European and Chinese standards, as well as intellectual property rights helpdesks in Asia and South America, which help EU enterprises navigate foreign markets.

According to Tajani, the recent agreement with Russia is yet another milestone in the Commission’s ongoing effort to increase trade and boost the European economy.

‘The EU and Russia have expressed a common interest in enhancing bilateral trade and investment opportunities, and in facilitating and liberalising trade in the global economy,’ Tajani says. ‘This is a big step forward to remove technical barriers to trade and to improve economic, scientific and technical exchanges. As a consequence, compliance costs for businesses will be reduced and economies of scale will unleash new potential.’

Russia is the European Union’s third-largest trading partner, and the EU is Russia’s top trading partner. In other words, the EU and Russia are no strangers to trade. At the same time, both sides are committed to improving this partnership. The intensified cooperation adheres to the EU-Russia ‘Partnership for Modernisation’, a focal point of the two sides’ emphasis creating uniform standards from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

The cooperating agreement, together with the parallel discussions on approximation of technical regulations, is a good example of how policy and technical standardisation complement each other.

About the agreement

The agreement – the first ever of its kind – will facilitate increased collaboration between two European standardisation organisations, CEN and CENELEC, and the Russian standardisation body, ROSSTANDART.

Points of emphasis include fostering communication between these three organisations; developing mutual technical cooperation on standards activities; and promoting the use of international standardisation as a tool for harmonisation at national level, particularly bodies such as the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

Another element of the agreement is that ROSSTANDART may request permanent observer status in CEN and/or CENELEC technical bodies. Under this observer status, Russia is encouraged to adopt European standards as national standards, and to withdraw conflicting national standards. This will further harmonise EU and Russian standards and catalyse increased cooperation and increased trade.

The partners will share knowledge and exchange best practices in the following areas: engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), collaboration between international and regional standardisation bodies, and synergy in other areas of mutual interest. To this end, they will organise seminars, exchange work programmes and/or establish joint working groups.

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