SBS Newsletter – Issue 1 – 2020

SBS Newsletter – Issue 1 – 2020

SBS Expert Network meets in Brussels

At the SBS expert meetings held on 11 and 12 February in Brussels, new SBS Director Maitane Olabarria welcomed nearly 50 experts from across the EU Member States. Twice a year, SBS experts representing SMEs in standardisation matters at European and International level meet in Brussels for exchanges, updates and discussions.

The meeting on the first day, targeting new experts, introduced the work of SBS experts, their rights and obligations. On the second day, the SBS Compatibility Test – a methodology developed to assess the relevance of a standard to SMEs – served as the basis for a lively discussion among the experts.

During the meetings, SBS had the honour of welcoming representatives of CEN-CENELEC, ISO and ETSI. Andreea Gulacsi, Joanna Frankowska and Deborah Wautier from CEN-CENELEC, Henry Cuschieri from ISO and Gavin Craik from ETSI presented the different standardisation bodies and outlined the ways in which they cooperate with SBS and its experts. Part of the meeting was also hosted at the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre.

Along with Hein Bollens, Deputy Head of the European Commission’s “Standards for Growth” Unit, the experts discussed the latest political developments at European level following the appointment of the new European Commission headed by Ms von der Leyen, and examined some specific questions concerning standardisation.

The next SBS expert meeting will take place on 21 October.

Construction Products Regulation: IMCO holds a legislative scrutiny session
On 22 January, Gwenole Cozigou, Acting Director General of DG GROW and Director responsible for “Sustainable Industry and Mobility”, took part in the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) session on the implementation of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR).

Mr Cozigou presented the main differences between the CPR and the New Legislative Framework Directives and Regulations, as well as the various CPR evaluations that had been completed since its full implementation in 2013.

He pointed out that a review might be needed, as the shortcomings of the harmonisation process had now become evident, especially following the recent court cases. If a review were to take place, it would need to focus on new challenges such as environmental aspects (the circular economy), safety and adapting to innovation. Other areas of concern might include market surveillance, the relationship between the European Organisation for Technical Assessment (EOTA) and the European Committee for standardisation (CEN), and simplification measures.

Mr Cozigou went on to say that DG GROW, in parallel with Member States, was considering how to make the present system work. Other stakeholders would be approached at a later stage. He concluded that all the possibilities and options – even repeal – remained on the table in the attempt to repair and/or enhance the CPR. The European Commission is currently conducting a study (launched in July 2019 for completion in July 2020) in order to assess the different policy options.

Finally, Members of the European Parliament took the floor and raised topics such as further harmonisation (for earthquake and fire safety), EOTA’s current and future role, the role of consumer safety and the failure to use simplification measures. IMCO announced that it would draft an implementation report on the CPR.

Read the SBS position paper “The future of the CPR and its implementation”.

Success for SBS: ETSI prioritises the impacts of standards on SMEs
ETSI recently reviewed its internal procedures to require proposers of new standards to describe their relevance to SMEs. As decided by the ETSI Board in January 2020, all new standard projects at ETSI will be accompanied by a form giving information about their impact on SMEs. This decision, which further aligns the ETSI procedures with the Institute’s objective of SME inclusion, was the result of SBS work in the ETSI decision-making bodies.

SBS online course ‘European e-Competence Framework for SMEs’

The European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) is a European standard which provides a common reference framework enabling companies, HR departments, ICT professionals and training providers across Europe to use a common language for managing professional ICT competences in the digital world.

It allows SMEs to conduct company self-assessments and identify their competence gaps; improve recruitment procedures by setting useful requirements for the evaluation and recruitment of staff; build job profiles by introducing a common approved methodology to describe the professional profiles lacking in the company; and increase their chances in public procurement tenders.

With a view to raising awareness of the issue, SBS has developed an online training course consisting of three tutorials explaining the e-CF standard, its usage and the benefits for SMEs.

No final vote on PPE standardisation request

At the Committee on Standards, the standardisation request (SReq) for personal protective equipment (PPE) was discussed and the vote eventually postponed due to the need to examine the amendments in more detail. Although the main elements of the new version of the SReq remain unchanged and the Commission claimed it would take a flexible approach to publishing standards under the old mandate, some issues were raised by SBS.

SBS welcomed the Commission’s clarification that harmonised standards developed under the old mandate could be published as long as they did not affect the essential requirements introduced by the new PPE Regulation. However, SBS expressed concerns regarding the requirement for PPE containing removable protectors to be assessed as a combination. This requirement would mean that a normal overall with pockets for knee protectors would be categorised as PPE although the overall itself has no protective function. DG GROW Head of Unit Barbara Bonvissuto pointed out that this was more an issue of interpretation of the Regulation than of conformity assessment and standards and would need to be discussed in the PPE working group.

Restrictions on the use of dust control mats avoided

Over the course of the last year, a standard on the accessibility of buildings was drafted. The initial draft proposed that dust control mats in entrance areas of public buildings should have permanent fixations to prevent folding or slipping. However, these requirements ignored the recent innovations by dirt control mat manufacturers together with textile service companies. Adoption of the draft would have meant that mats could no longer be cleaned and serviced in a circular system.

SBS and other national and international associations successfully argued that highly developed and professionally maintained mats had to be distinguished from commercially available mats. The responsible CEN committee unanimously approved this clarification at its meeting in November 2019 and adopted a standard that now stipulates that dust control mats should be laundered, inspected and subjected to quality control on a regular basis to ensure that they are maintained in their optimum safe, flat and effective condition – a service that is mostly delivered by SMEs.

A new partnership for a new sectorial magazine

At last year’s “Interlift – the International Trade Fair for Elevators”, EFESME and ELEVATOR WORLD announced a new partnership and the choice of the magazine ELEVATOR WORLD Europe (EWEU) as EFESME’s new official gazette.

The magazine, dedicated to the European lift market, will enable SBS and EFESME to raise the profile of their work and activities in support of SMEs even more widely at European level, thanks to widespread distribution in five languages and its prestige as sectorial magazine. Focus on individual European countries and articles on specific topics will demonstrate how these activities in Europe benefit the daily work of SMEs.

Read the November/December 2019 issue, which includes an article about SBS.


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.