Newsletter – Issue 5 – 2019

Newsletter – Issue 5 – 2019

Annual EU work programme for European standardisation for 2020

On 28 October, the European Commission published the annual union work programme for European standardisation for 2020. As in previous years, it sets out the objectives, policies and actions the European Commission intends to take over the coming year.

Among the priorities, the European Commission has identified a number of measures concerning ICT which are of direct relevance to SBS (see article below). Other concrete actions include the issuing of several standardisation requests, including one to develop methods and criteria for assessing the performance of construction products. Another important request for SMEs will relate to the development of standards in support of Regulation (EC) 765/2008 on the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products and of Regulation 2019/1020 on market surveillance and compliance of products. The Commission is seeking to harmonise the evaluation criteria used by the different accreditation bodies to ensure that accreditation and conformity assessments are similar in all Member States, thus creating a level playing field for all economic operators.

The Commission also confirms that it will closely monitor how European standardisation organisations involve under-represented stakeholders such as SMEs and calls on SBS to notify it of any incidents including at the international level.

The communication also confirms that work is in progress on a guidance document for the practical implementation of Regulation 1025/2012 and that it is launching a study on the economic and societal impact of standardisation, to be completed by 2021.

Experts discuss institutional changes and the drafting of future standards

SBS experts gathered on 23 October to discuss the new HAS consultant system and the latest political and standardisation-related developments at European level. Over 35 experts were present at this well-attended meeting, the second expert meeting of the year.

Highlights from the day included the presentation by a HAS consultant, Francisco Javier Verdera Marì, who was accompanied by representatives of Ernst & Young, the consultancy appointed by the European Commission to take charge of the HAS consultant team. He provided an overview of the HAS consultant system, which is replacing the former CEN consultant structure. A discussion followed, during which the experts were given the opportunity to engage with the HAS consultant directly. This was an important point, as the HAS consultant system may have a significant impact on the drafting of standards at European level, although this depends on how the TCs make use of the system.

Hein Bollens, deputy head of the “Standards for Growth” unit at the European Commission, gave an overview of recent developments, including the appointment of the new Commission, which has not yet officially taken office. He went on to encourage SBS experts to support and protect the European standardisation system, which is unique in the world.

Luc Hendrickx, Enterprise policy Director at SMEunited, gave an update on the current European political situation, with the newly elected European Parliament and its implications for finding majorities. He also gave a brief summary of the SME strategy which the incoming European Commission is expected to adopt.

EESC gathers standardisation stakeholders to discuss how inclusiveness can be better achieved

At an event on “Inclusiveness of the European Standardisation System”, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee, participants debated progress and next steps towards better achieving inclusiveness by ensuring that all stakeholders be represented. Enterprise Policy Director Luc Hendrickx, representing SBS, noted that there is a need to continue efforts to allow for a sustained participation of SMEs in the standardisation system. Participation should also be increased at international level and the “Right of Opinion” should also be granted to SBS.

To increase SME participation, more should be done. The education system should pay more attention to the importance and benefits of standardisation. More should also be done to disseminate information and make SMEs aware of relevant standards in a digestible format, especially in the language of the entrepreneur. Standards must also be adapted to the traditional enterprises and compatible with their production methods. To reduce the cost and time for SMEs, remote participation should be made possible especially at international level.

Indeed, although the economic weight of SMEs is very important worldwide, their participation in the international standardisation process is weak. This is regrettable as they are potentially the greatest users of standards. The principles governing EU standardisation should be exported to the international level, e.g. through the Free Trade Agreements. To ensure inclusiveness of SMEs, they should also have the “Right of Opinion” as there are no valid reasons for not granting it. The “Right of Opinion” allows societal stakeholders to provide a motivated opinion, favourable or not, when draft standards are submitted to Enquiry or Formal Vote.

Reinforced collaboration with the Danish Standardisation organisation

On 28 October, SMEunited Enterprise Director and SBS representative, Luc Hendrickx, met the Public Affairs Department of the Danish Standardisation organisation Dansk Standards. Mr Hendrickx presented the role and benefits of standards for the Internal Market and explained the objectives and working methods of SBS. The objective of the meeting was to call for more involvement of Danish SMEs at national level.

Towards a more sustainable Construction Products Regulation?
On 22 October, SBS organised its annual Construction Forum meeting, open to members and experts interested in the construction sector in general and construction products in particular. The agenda was drawn up with an eye to its value for current and future work on standardisation.
At the first session, recent developments concerning the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) were presented and discussed.

In the second session, the implementation of the CPR Basic Requirement for Construction Works (BRCW) 7 “Sustainable use of natural resources” was presented and discussed. Franz Dolezal, SBS expert on CEN TC 350 “Sustainability of construction Works”, gave an introduction to EN 15804 (“Sustainability of construction works. Environmental product declarations. Core rules for the product category of construction products”), the standard to be used in implementing this requirement.

By the end of the day participants had a clear grasp of how the CPR differs from the rules under the New Legislative Framework (NLF), and of how, since the James Elliott Construction case (2016), the European Commission has chosen to take a more legalistic approach to standardisation work (both for construction products and NLF harmonised standards). Much work remains to be done on CPR BRCW 7 to respond to the issues which remain open and to ensure that it can be implemented smoothly. In conclusion, it was decided that the SBS CPR Working Group should be revived to tackle current and future issues.

SBS ICT Forum 2019: SMEs and European authorities discuss standards in the EU Cybersecurity Act

On 23 October, SBS provided a forum for experts and SME stakeholders to discuss a topic often overlooked in talks about cyber resilience: the challenges and opportunities that the Cybersecurity Act poses for SMEs. Some 40 participants met at Impact House in Brussels to witness a lively discussion among SME organisations, the European Commission and ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) representatives.

Most European SME fail to adopt adequate cybersecurity standards for a number of reasons; budgetary and time constraints and the lack of skills are at the top of the list. The Cybersecurity Act was developed to address this issue, but there remains a need for SME-compatible standards and solutions within its new cybersecurity framework. The European institutions are aware of this need and are now committed to finding solutions that will enable SMEs to make safe choices despite their limited resources.

Cybersecurity as a key theme at the SBS Lift Seminar

On 17 October, at the Interlift trade fair, SBS organised the 2019 SBS Lift Seminar focusing on the importance of cybersecurity for SMEs in this sector and the solutions that standardisation provides.

Discussions revolved around how standards support the integration of smart lifts and how it is possible to monitor them remotely without running unnecessary risks. Two case studies showed how digital skills and a solid knowledge of cybersecurity were already being used by SMEs to facilitate and support everyday work and how the market pushes SMEs to learn new digital skills while recognising the difficulty in doing so.

The impact on the audience was positive and encouraging: the lively Q&A session made it clear that the participants understood the topic’s relevance for the work of SMEs and that they are increasingly interested in developing fundamental digital skills to remain competitive.

Discussion on integrating the circular economy into standardisation

The SBS Forum on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Brussels on 24 October saw an intensive exchange of ideas on how standards can be used to promote a circular business model like that applied in textile services. The SBS sectoral associations DTV and SME Safety encouraged the European Commission and the standardisation bodies to take action in areas where a sector mainly driven by SMEs has a business model which already incorporates the principles of reuse, repair, recycle, and a sharing economy. SBS feels that supporting the use of reusable and repairable PPE, e.g. via public procurement practices, would not just help to achieve environmental protection goals but would also support local SMEs that provide services such as laundering, repairing and recycling PPE textile products.

The discussion showed that the inclusion of the circular economy in the PPE regulation will be a long process. A short-term solution for progress in this area might be the development of specific product standards with accompanying guidelines.


Views and opinions expressed are those of Small Business Standards (SBS) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EFTA. Neither the European Union nor EFTA can be held responsible for them.