For the last quarter of a century, European standardisation has successfully contributed to the implementation of European policies and legislation. This refers in particular to the internal market legislation following the "New Approach" concept in major industrial sectors but also to an increasingly large collection of other EU legal acts, such as for the safety of consumer products (General Product Safety Directive), the Single European Sky and postal services. In addition European Commission has a number of initiatives regarding horizontal sectors and general areas of interest to Europe.
Standardisation can make an important contribution to the development of sustainable industrial policy, unlock the potential of innovative markets and strengthen the position of European economy by capitalising more efficiently on its knowledge basis. These are the main conclusions of the European Commission Communication "Towards an increased contribution from standardisation to innovation in Europe [214 KB] " from March 2008.
More information on innovation in the field of standardisation.
Standards contribute to economic and social development. As they may define how a product is made, used, maintained and treated at the end of its life, or because they help to sample, test and analyse products or materials in relation to their environmental behaviour or conditions, standards can have a substantial benefit influence on the way products and services impact on the environment.
More information on environment in the field of standardisation.
The landscape for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) standardisation has dramatically changed over the last decade. Alongside the traditional standards-stetting organisations, specialised and mostly global fora and consortia have become more active and several have emerged as world-leading ICT standards development bodies, such as those responsible for the standards covering the internet and the World Wide Web. A new modern ICT standardisation policy is being developed that will allow Europe to respond to the changing societal, market and policy needs. A White Paper on ICT standardisation policy has been published by DG Enterprise.
Services are crucial to Europe. They are everywhere, accounting for between 60 and 70% of economic activity in the European Union of 27 Member States, and a similar (and rising) proportion of overall employment. For this reason the European Commission is investigating the role that standardisation can play in the service sectors in order to foster the development of the single market for services.
More information on services in the field of standardisation.
Intellectual Property Rights
Both standardisation and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) encourage innovation and facilitate the dissemination of technology.
The European Commission supports the view that standards should be open for access and implementation by everyone, with IPRs relevant to the standard being taking into consideration in the standardisation process aiming at establishing a balance between the interests of the users of standards and the rights of owners of intellectual property.
As both IPRs and standards contribute to the objectives of innovation and dissemination of technology by different means, due regard needs to be paid to the inter-relation between standardisation and IPRs. In accordance with the announcement in its Communication (2008) 133 , the Commission has launched a fact-finding study to analyse the interplay of IPRs and standards.
More information on the Study about the Interplay between Standards and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)