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European standards

The contribution of standardisation to innovation

The Competitiveness Council of 4 December 2006, addressing in its conclusions the subject of innovation, stressed the need to enhance the European standards-setting system, and invited the Commission to put forward proposals for action to be taken by the relevant stakeholders.

On 11 March 2008, the Commission adopted a Communication entitled "Towards an increased contribution from standardisation to innovation in Europe", responding to the invitation of the Council. The Communication places in focus a greater contribution from standardisation to innovation and competitiveness.

The main points of the Communication are the following:

  • While the lack of standards, or the slow updating of existing standards hamper the uptake of innovation, standardisation that is lively and strong has the power to accelerate the access of innovation to both domestic and global market.
  • A strong role for Europe in international standardisation is also a means of capitalising on European leadership in new markets and of gaining first-mover advantages in global market.
  • Industry and other stakeholders are particularly invited to accelerate their cooperation in the development, implementation and use of standards supporting innovation in relation to the sustainable industrial policy, the sectors identified in the EU initiative on lead markets, and other areas particularly relevant for innovation.
  • Standardisation needs to adapt to the needs of innovation, and to respond to the challenges which globalisation, the emergence of new economic powers, and the evolution of technology present for the process of standardisation itself. The Communication proposes to Member States, industry, users, standards bodies and other stakeholders of standardisation nine key elements for focusing EU standardisation policy on innovation. The intention is increase the impact of Europe in global standardisation, to facilitate the inclusion of new knowledge in standards, to make effective the access to standardisation to all, in particular to SMEs, to accelerate the uptake of standards by users, and to reinforce the infrastructure of European standardisation.

On 25 September 2008 the Council adopted the following Conclusions: Council Conclusions on standardisation and innovation .

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