An important issue for Europe
An important issue for Europe
The European Parliament adopted :
- the report on "The future of European Standardisation" (ref 2010/2051 (INI)) in which it, among others:
- stresses that SMEs, although they represent an essential part of the European market, are not adequately involved in the standardisation system and cannot, therefore, exploit entirely the benefits derived from standardisation
- believes that it is essential to improve their representation and participation in the system, especially in the technical committees at national level
- asks the Commission to identify, through its impact assessment in the context of the revision of the European standardisation system, the best way to reach this aim, evaluating the necessary funding to help SMEs
- and a resolution about the future of the European standardisation It has a broad coverage.
The Commission's political recognition to the central role of SME's in the EU economy has been reflected by the adoption of the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA) in June 2008. It aims to improve the overall approach to entrepreneurship, to irreversibly anchor the "Think Small First" principle in policy making from regulation to public service, and to promote SMEs' growth by helping them tackle the remaining problems which hamper their development.
One of the SBA goals is to help SME's to benefit more from the opportunities offered by the Single Market and third-country markets. For this purpose, the Commission confirms, in particular, an increase of the budget allocated to the promotion of SME's in the standardisation process.
The importance of helping craft and micro enterprises regarding standardisation was reiterated at the 4th European Conference for Crafts and Small Enterprises (Stuttgart, April 2007).
At the World Standards Day 2006, which was devoted to SME's, Vice-President Verheugen pointed out the importance of the principle "Think Small First" at all levels and agreed to increase support for crafts and SMEs in the standardisation process.
In 2002/2003 a SME Observatory survey showed that standards are very important for 2/3 of all micro and small business, yet only 1/3 of micro and less than half of small businesses received relevant information. Three out of four small enterprises have problems with standards and standardisation, the main ones being:
- lack of information on new standards
- little knowledge of standards to be applied
- problems properly understanding and applying the standards
- problems obtaining certificates of compliance with standards
- inability to take part in drafting new standards.
In its Communication on Innovation Policy of 11 March 2003 the European Commission calls for an industry-wide innovation policy concept, which is fully supported by the small business and skilled craft sector.
The Communication points out different routes to innovation, not only Research and Development (R&D), but also interaction with other policies areas including standardisation: "the use of open standards in different business areas reduces costs, simplifies processes and is a key factor in dissemination of technical, managerial and organisational innovations in areas such as product development, manufacturing, marketing, etc."