Standardisation and SMEs
European standards are a powerful means of enhancing the competitiveness of SME's.
They reduce the technical barriers to trade and thus they facilitate the access of SME's to the Single Market.
The European Commission is carrying out actions to improve the participation of SME's in the European standardisation process as well as to promote the information on and use of standards among SME's.
Every year more than 1000 European standards are adopted.
Although standardisation processes formally allow for participation and input from all interested stakeholders, SME's and craft enterprises often do not take part in the process. This is mostly because they are unaware of new developments, cannot easily evaluate their importance or do not have sufficient financial or human resources to allocate to standardisation activities.
These factors result in a relatively low participation of SMEs in the standardisation process.
Ultimately, the specific interests of SME's may not be properly reflected in the standards, as SME's only learn about the new standards after their adoption and publication (in their own language).
European Conference "SMEs and Standardisation"
Save the date : 28 May 2013 - Brussels
Venue: Square - Brussels
European Standards offer a wide range of benefits to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They enable companies to improve their efficiency and competitiveness, minimize waste and reduce costs. They ensure the quality and safety of products and services, and make it esier to sell them throughout Europe and around the world They help to create a level playing field, allowing SMEs to access more markets and attract new customers. SMEs can take full advantage of the benefits and opportunities offered by European Standards, but often don't know how.
This conference will provide a unique opportunity to discuss how to promote the successful participation of SMEs in standardisation activities, and make it easier for them to access the results. In this respect concrete examples and best practices resulting from the SMEST project will be explained. Speakers will include representatives of the European and National Standard Organisations, European Commission, and business and industry associations active on critical issues concerning standards for SMEs.
Visit the conference website for updates: http://www.cencenelec.eu/news/events/Pages/EV-2012-013.aspx
Guidebook on "Using standards to support growth, competitiveness and innovation"
The guide provides an introduction to standards and how they are developed, highlights the benefits of standards for SMEs and the wider economy, summarises the main barriers faced by SMEs in developing and using standards, presents ideas on how Structural Funds can be used to help SMEs overcome barriers and increase their competitiveness through better use of standards and explains the next steps for regional authorities to implement these ideas. The guidebook was written by Technopolis Ltd. The English version is available : here [944 KB]
It will be translated and available in all EU languages during the first quarter of 2013. This guidebook is part of a series on "How to support SME policy from Structural funds". Cfr http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/regional-sme-policies/index_en.htm
EU actions in the field of promoting SMEs and Standardisation :
The objectives of the EU actions are to promote the participation of SMEs and craft enterprises and their interests in the European standardisation process, as well as to improve SME and craft enterprises' information on, and use of European standards and to show them the benefits of using standards.
Based on the new Regulation on standardisation a call for proposals for an operating grant for 2013 for a European body representing SMEs will soon be published on the related DG Enterprise webpage.
The European Commission has supported projects facilitating access of SMEs to standardisation since 1995.
The main activities in this field were carried out by SBS and CEN-CENELEC and have been described in more detail below :
- CEN-CENELEC and partners
- Study on "Best Practices to promote the participation of craft and SME enterprises in standardisation and the use of standards" (EIM) (2006)
- External evaluations of EU actions in the domain of SMEs and standardisation
More information on why participation of SMEs in standardisation is an important subject in Europe and a brief overview of the European standardisation system can be found here: