ICT standards play an essential role in achieving interoperability of new technologies and can bring significant benefits to both industry and consumers. They help ICT markets remain open and allow consumers the widest choice of products.
Standardisation is an essential component of industrial competiveness. Regulation 1025/2012 on European standardisation sets the legal framework in which the actors in standardisation (the European Commission, European standardisation organisations, industry, SMEs and societal stakeholders) operate.
In the last decades, many of the most commonly used ICT technical specifications are produced by forums and consortiums that have become leading ICT standards development bodies. Article 13 of the Regulation allows the Commission to identify ICT technical specifications to be eligible for referencing in public procurement. This allows public authorities to make use of the full range of specifications when buying IT hardware, software and services, allowing for more competition in the field and reducing the risk of lock-in to proprietary systems.
The Commission financially supports the work of the 3 European standardisation organisations:
EU-funded research and innovation projects also make their results available to the standardisation work of several standards-setting organisations.
A European Multi Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation has been set up to advise the Commission on matters relating to the implementation of ICT standardisation policy, including priority-setting in support of legislation and policies, and the identification of specifications developed by global ICT standards development organisations.
The Platform also advises on the elaboration and implementation of the Rolling Plan on ICT standardisation.
Members of the platform include representatives of EU and EFTA countries, European and international standard developing bodies, organisations active in Europe in the field of ICT standardisation development, and organisations representing industry, SMEs, consumers and societal stakeholders.
The 2016 Rolling Plan on ICT Standardisation (3MB) / Addendum (67 KB) is the result of collaboration with major standardisation stakeholders through the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation. It covers all activities that can support standardisation. Priority actions aim to ensure interoperability and facilitate ICT uptake in key areas.
The Plan offers details on the international contexts for each policy:
By contrast with the previous work programmes, the new Rolling Plan describes all the standardisation activities undertaken by Standard Setting Organisations (SSOs). This ensures an improved coherence between standardisation activities in the EU.
Finally the Rolling Plan is the first prepared with the involvement of European Standardisation Organisations and other stakeholders. This improved process is a stronger guarantee that activities of standardisation supporting EU policies in the ICT domain will be aligned.