European Standards in Business-Related Services

In its Communication on “Europe 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” the European Commission underlines that a strong, deep and extended Single Market is vital for growth and job creation. To answer the challenges set to achieve the Europe 2020 goals, a Single Market with well functioning open markets and empowered consumers is essential.

With the same view, CEN and CENELEC believe that standardization has a major role to play in assisting to reach a well functioning Single Market. In the past European standardization has already contributed in essential ways to remove technical barriers for businesses, to promote the spread of new technologies and to foster innovation.

CEN and CENELEC will continue supporting the consolidation of the European single market as detailed through the 50 proposals of the Single Market Act. Our standards are adopted identically by the 31 member countries of CEN and CENELEC, withdrawing national conflicting standards and therefore ensuring one standard for Europe.

CEN and CENELEC also note that the fragmentation of the single market is a matter of concern for both the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, and that the latter, in its Conclusions on the Single Market Act, calls for careful examination of cross border problems arising in national technical regulations in non-harmonized areas. Special attention is given to services.

The role of standardization in the creation of an Internal Market for services has been recognized by the Directive on Services (2006/123). This Directive encourages the development of European standards in order to facilitate compatibility between services, information to the recipient and quality of service provision. The need for further standardization in this area is also one of the issues already mentioned in the EC Communication on Industrial Policy of October 2010 in relation to business related services.

Transparency and a level playing field are as important for services and processes as for products. Nevertheless, although standardization is increasingly being used in the field of services, the number of service standards is still very small in comparison with standards in the field of goods.

Nevertheless, CEN has already developed/is developing European standards in business-related services, such as: facility management, management and engineering consultancy or logistics. More can be consulted on our website.  This process is expected to accelerate in future, notably to avoid the creation of new barriers to trade in services through different approaches in different Member States.  The forthcoming EU Commission standards package will almost certainly ensure the same treatment of service standardization in the EU as applies currently to product standardization, including the obligation to notify new national standards activities to the Commission and CEN-CENELEC.

With regards the question of internationalization of services, in a globalized world, the need for international standards simply makes sense in many cases. The Vienna Agreement − signed by CEN in 1991 with ISO (International Organization for Standardization) its international counterpart − ensures technical cooperation by correspondence and through meetings, and where possible adoption of the same text, as both an ISO Standard and a European Standard.

On the international level, CENELEC has worked hand-in-hand with the IEC since the signature of the Dresden Agreement in 1996 (previously the Lugano Agreement since 1991). This agreement organizes CENELEC’s offer of standards issued in Europe to its international counterpart.

The engagement from CEN and CENELEC in such international dialogues has already been translated into open dialogue with key international partners and various cooperation arrangements with third-country organizations in different area of the world, such as Russia, Japan, Korea, China, US, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the members of the MERCOSUR.

John Ketchell