Standards are an important tool for the operation of the Single Market, to enhance competitiveness, growth, and innovation, to support quality, performance and protection of consumers, business, workers, and environment and to develop interoperability of networks and system.

The Commission supports the voluntary application of standards and industry’s leading role in their development. At the same time, it considers as essential, to secure a high level of acceptance that the standardization process should benefit from the technical knowledge of industrial, governmental and scientific representatives and other stakeholders. An efficient standardization system must be based on close partnership between the regulator, standardization bodies, and industry-

The Commission set out a strategic vision for European standardization in its 2011 Communication on “A strategic vision for European standards: moving forward to enhance and accelerate the sustainable growth of the European economy by 2020”.

The Regulation requires the Commission to identify strategic priorities for European standardization. These priorities, which reflect the Commission’s policy objectives, are published in annual Union work programs for European standardization. The annual programs indicate what standards and standardization deliverables the Commission intends to request from the European standardization organisations3 (ESOs), i.e. how it intends to use standardization in support of new or existing legislation.

The standardization activity prioritized in the 2018 annual Union work programs for European standardization reflects a number of the current Commission’s policy priorities, and supports recently approved major legislation and policy documents.

The Strategic priorities for European standardization 2018 in support of Union legislation and policies concern actions in support of:

  1. the digital single market strategy
  2. the energy union strategy
  3. the space strategy for Europe
  4. the circular economy action plan
  5. the European defense action plan
  6. the European agenda on security
  7. a deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base

In particular, Action 7 includes a need for new harmonized standards especially in the field of autonomous vehicles. Innovative products/systems are being developed quickly in response to demand and are spreading fast on the market. In order to overcome the current situation of self-certified conformity procedures, it is very important that standards are available to ensure safety and market access. Further to this, relevant international standardization activities should be taken into account.

The European Commission underlines the key role of Standards to facilitate companies’ market access worldwide. Two main objectives are instrumental in this respect:

  • strengthening the competitiveness and global reach of the industry by reducing technical barriers to trade (TBTs); and
  • enhancing worldwide interoperability by using common technically aligned standards that support trade in goods and services.

These objectives can be achieved, first and foremost, by aiming for the greatest possible coherence between international and European standards.

In 2018, the Commission will thus intensify its policy dialogue with international standardization actors.


By Bernard Gindroz, Chairman ISO TC 268 “sustainable cities and communities” – Chairman CEN/CENELEC SFEM

Bernard Gindroz is the owner of BMGI Consulting – Chairman ISO TC 268 “sustainable cities and communities”. He is the Chairman of CEN/CENELEC/ETSI Smart Cities and Communities et Chair of joint CEN/CENELEC TC on hydrogen in the energy system. MCI Senior Advisor Energy Technologies & Standardization Energy, Transport, Smart Cities, Climate Change.

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