Sophia Antipolis, 22 June 2023

On 21 June, a panel debate on ‘30 years of Standards for the Single Market: what way ahead?’ brought together the key stakeholders of the European standardization system. Reflecting on the role of standards in the first 30 years of the Single Market, panelists also discussed challenges ahead in the current geopolitical context.

Taking place in Belgrade (Serbia) during the CEN CENELEC Annual General Meeting, the debate included Maive Rute, Deputy Director-General, Chief Standardization Officer from the European Commission; Stefano Calzolari, President of CEN; Yann Fromont, Schneider Electric and Chair of CEN and CENELEC Industry Advisory Forum (IAF); a representative of the Ministry for European Integration in Serbia and Luis Jorge Romero, Director-General of ETSI.

The European standardization machinery has played a critical part in building the “interoperability” that was needed to foster free movement of goods, services, people, and capital across the continent.  The New Approach and the New Legislative Framework have significantly contributed to increasing harmonization, limiting fragmentation and supporting the proper functioning of the European Single Market.

Luis Jorge Romero reminded everyone that mobile communications are an obvious result of the good functioning of standards. They demonstrate how the Single Market enabled, promoted and triggered a major and deeper effect which spread globally. From there, other major standards made in Europe are implemented worldwide, which is a good indicator of the global influence of European industry.

Asked whether standards were well-placed to help Europe succeed in the digital transition and remain competitive on the global stage, the ETSI Director-General answered that when it comes to digital, the EU continues to be a global standards setter.

He added that digitalization of economy is not an absolute end but a process of continuous improvement. While standards help the European industry to remain at the forefront and access global markets, they are only a tool. According to him, to leverage the power of standards, investment in R&D is a must and European players must bring high-level technology to the standards landscape.

There is a need for cooperation among different sectors. Although it is already happening today, it needs to be further encouraged.

He concluded that policy makers and industry  need to trust each other again. If standards- making ends up geographically fragmented, the EU will lack a critical asset to deliver on its ambition in digital. Likewise, if we keep standards-making globally united, history tells us that Europe maybe the one to harvest the most gains.