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Better standards – good for consumers, good for industry

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The use of common standards in different business areas reduces costs, ensures quality processes and is a key factor in the dissemination of new products and innovations. European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani is therefore making sure that standards continue to meet the needs of consumers and enterprises alike.

Standards play an important role in our daily lives. They make children’s toys safer, for example, and ensure the quality of the products we use at home, at work, on the road, in the skies – just about everywhere.

The European Commission recognises the importance of standards – not merely for safety and convenience, but also as a catalyst for economic growth. For enterprises, standards are crucial for achieving economies of scale, reducing production costs and gaining access to more markets and more consumers.

‘Standards are a bridge between an innovative idea and bringing it to the market,’ says European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani. ‘They can provide an essential contribution towards innovation and competitiveness.’

European standards

Standards are not created and handed down by the European Commission. Instead, standards are a process developed by industry, for industry – on a voluntary, transparent basis. However, for a standard to be European, it has to be adopted by one of the European Standards Organisations: the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) or the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

European standards are developed when there is an industry, market or public need. Industry, for instance, could need a standard to ensure the interoperability of a product or service. Such is the case for the ICT industry (information and communications technology), which directly affects the EU’s 250 million-plus daily Internet users, as well as nearly all European citizens who own a mobile phone. Standards need to be available to assure information exchange between devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks so that Europe can reap the full benefits of ICT.

Standards: essential for international success

The EU standardisation process also strengthens Europe’s position in trade negotiations with the rest of the world. A product made in Europe according to EU standards has credibility around the globe, giving it a crucial competitive advantage. Similarly, if imported products meet EU standards, they are guaranteed to be safe.

To keep track of evolutions in international standards, the EU has standardisation experts in China and India. Given that countries outside the EU have the fastest-growing economies, these experts can promote the EU brand in support of European companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In addition, in order for European companies to be better informed about international standards, the Europe-China Standards Information Platform (CESIP) was launched in 2012. It provides bi-lingual information to Chinese and European businesses on various topics, including technical regulations to market access requirements. The platform not only helps businesses internationalise, but ultimately strengthens trade between Europe and China.

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