Standardisation: SBS and CEN-CENELEC discuss how to improve access and participation in national standardisation

On 5 June 2024, Small Business Standards SBS and the European Committees for Standardisation and Electrotechnical Standardisation CEN-CENELEC co-hosted a workshop titled “Driving Inclusiveness in Standardisation: How to Strengthen National Participation” at the Belgian Ministry of Economy. This event, organised under the inclusiveness workstream of the High-Level Forum on European Standardisation (HLF), gathered representatives from national governments, national standardisation bodies (NSBs), industry, SMEs, and various societal stakeholders.

The event started with speeches from high-ranking officials of the Belgian government and the European Commission. Representatives from SBS and CEN-CENELEC, who lead the HLF’s work on national inclusiveness, shared insights on the results of questionnaires and interviews on the conditions and measures necessary to enhance access and stakeholder participation in national standardisation with national stakeholders, NSBs, and government representatives.

The workshop featured three panels that addressed key topics: facilitating stakeholder access to national standardisation; ensuring effective participation of those already engaged in the system; and promoting and sharing existing best practices. Speakers presented concrete suggestions, examples, and testimonials, fostering lively and interactive discussions. Key measures discussed included free or facilitated access to technical committees for underrepresented groups, developing and promoting technical and educational tools to raise awareness and support participation, and offering incentives like tax reductions to encourage involvement in the standard-making process.

The conclusions drawn from the workshop and the report’s findings will inform a set of recommendations aimed at enhancing inclusiveness in national standardisation, which will be submitted to the HLF for endorsement. These recommendations will highlight the necessity of sharing best practices and reducing fragmentation in access conditions among different countries, while also considering national realities.

By promoting inclusiveness and broadening stakeholder participation in the standardisation process, all sectors, including construction, can benefit from a more diverse set of inputs, leading to standards that better reflect the needs of all stakeholders, especially SMEs. This inclusivity would ensure that standards are comprehensive and applicable across various contexts, fostering innovation, improving efficiency, and enhancing the overall quality and safety of construction projects.

As a convinced supporter of the added value of standards, 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.

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