EU Science Hub

Putting science into standards – high-level round table

Putting science into standards: eco-innovation Putting science into standards: eco-innovation
©EU, 2013
Apr 24 2013

The JRC is addressing the challenges of standardisation in a two-day event, with a special focus on Eco-Innovation. Organised jointly with the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO), the European Standards Organisations (CEN and CENELEC) and the European Commission Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry, this initiative aims at linking the science, industry, standards and policy-making communities in order to facilitate the screening of emerging areas and identify early needs for standards.

The benefits of standards for the European industry can be tremendous. They lead to cost reductions or cost savings derived from economies of scale, the possibility to anticipate technical requirements, the reduction of transaction costs and the possibility to access standardised components. Well designed and timely European standards also support innovation. In addition, they facilitate access to foreign markets and global business partners, being a cornerstone of both, the EU's internal market and international trade arrangements.

Today's roundtable focused on the role of science in the standardisation process. The event tomorrow will focus on eco-innovation, aiming at establishing an agenda for action in this field by identifying the needs of industry and cross-checking those with the work plans of the standardisation organisations and examining where science needs to come into the process.

During his conclusions, JRC Director-General, Dominique Ristori, highlighted that by better incorporating science into the European standardisation system the needs of the European economy can be better addressed. He stressed that foresight and horizon scanning are crucial to speed up the process, and scientists can help in this. In addition, he called for scientists to be actively included in all stages of the standardisation process to a greater extent than at present and to ensure that they are better aware of the system and its benefits. Finally, he made a point about the benefits of internationalising European standards, which can be crucial for Europe's competitiveness.

Policy background

Standardisation is one of the keywords in the various flagship initiatives of the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade (Europe 2020) and the framework programme for research and innovation (Horizon 2020).

Linking to these initiatives, in 2011, the European Commission adopted the Communication 'A strategic vision for European standards: "Moving forward to enhance and accelerate the sustainable growth of the European economy by 2020" , which notes that "the speed of the process must be urgently improved if we want European standards to play a global role" and goes onto note that science has a crucial role to play in this respect.

In 2012, a further step was taken and the Commission adopted the Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 of 25 October 2012 on European standardisation, which lays down rules governing: (i) cooperation between European standardisation organisations, national standardisation bodies, Member States and the Commission: (ii) the establishment of European standards and European standardisation deliverables for products and for services in support of Union legislation and policies; (iii) the identification of information and communication technology (ICT) technical specifications eligible for referencing; (iv) the financing of European standardisation and (v) stakeholder participation in European standardisation.

The JRC is actively contributing with its scientific expertise to this process, and an overview of its main initiatives in support of standardisation can be found in this new publication.