At the occasion of the CEN-CENELEC Stakeholder workshop on the ESOs-EC Task Force on “Timely delivery of European standards for a Green and Digital, Single and Global Market”, held on 16 November 2021, Small Business Standards (SBS) made a statement on the importance of harmonised standards for SMEs in Europe.
As is the case in many sectors, including construction, SMEs need up-to-date standards to maintain their competitiveness and growth potential by ensuring that their products comply with EU legislation. Indeed, using alternatives to standards can be very costly and sometimes uncertain.
To solve the blocking factors for the citation of harmonised standards, SBS defended the need to define clear and stable criteria for their assessment so that delays in their development and subsequent citation are avoided. It is also important to have a common understanding and harmonised views on these criteria from all the relevant stakeholders: experts, consultants and Commission officers.
The timely delivery of European standards and a better anticipation of future standardisation needs are of paramount importance, including in situations arising from new legislative proposals that require new standards.
Practical experience shows, however, that it is not uncommon for the time gained by working in parallel to be lost in adapting draft standards due to rapidly changing requirements. It is therefore important to find an appropriate approach to anticipate needs without having to redo the work, and it is in this context that SBS highlights three fundamental elements to be considered:
- Close dialogue at an early stage between the standardisation bodies, the Commission and stakeholders is essential to identify the real needs for standards when proposing new or amended legislation. New standards are not always needed, in some cases the right standard already exists or simply needs to be adapted to take account of new aspects. Having effective tools to monitor existing initiatives and to carry out gap analyses are also important aspects.
- Requests for standardisation should be flexible to avoid going through the whole procedure when a modification is needed due to changes in the legislative process or clear needs for adjustment.
- Realistic transition periods should be provided for in any new or amended legislation to ensure that the standards supporting its implementation are available.
EBC is a founding member and partner of SBS, the European association giving SMEs a voice in the standardisation process at the European and international level. EBC represents SBS in construction-related fora as well as technical committees and chairs the SBS Construction Forum.
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