The Future for Standards is Not Standard

Looking at the title of today’s forum, one wonders if standardizing the single market is something of an oxymoron? While on one hand the standardization process will enable greater interoperability and reduce barriers to trade, on the other, markets are ever evolving beasts and, as fast as we try to make standards, new technologies and new services will continue to evolve, making the old standards obsolete.

Nevertheless, that does not mean we should not try to build a better standards framework for Europe. And, indeed, it is important that the focus on completing the single market includes the digital agenda as a fully integrated component of the future. The knowledge economy is central to Europe’s ability to foster new growth and create new jobs, at a time when the struggling Eurozone needs more help than ever. Last week, a new piece of research from McKinsey examined the Internet economies of the G8 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), as well as Brazil, China, India, South Korea, and Sweden. It found that the internet now accounts for a significant and growing portion of global GDP. And of course, added to this we have other growing markets such as telecommunications, entertainments and so on.

We need a flexible and fully functioning market for digital services as much as we do for goods and, if we want Europe to improve its competitiveness, we also need standards which work globally as well as simply being designed to be compatible for European systems.

In short, the future for standards is not standard. It must be designed to be as adaptable and flexible as possible, to keep pace with our ever changing world and to make sure that consumers can benefit from the many exciting new products and services which have not yet even been invented.