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European Commission proposal on standardisation: barriers to consumer participation in standards-making need to be dismantled


31 May 2011


Health & Consumers


Tomorrow (1 June), the European Commission is expected to adopt a proposal for the revision of European Standardisation System. ANEC believes that the future European Standardisation System needs to be more effective and better balanced in order to be more inclusive of societal interests while aiding the competitiveness of European business.


For the past 25 years, European Standards have helped to create and maintain the Single European Market. The adoption of over 20.000 European Standards as identical national standards in 31 countries (the 27 EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Croatia) has helped to dismantle a multitude of trade barriers, encouraging increased competition and lower costs. “It is now the turn of the barriers hampering the effective participation of consumers in standardisation to be dismantled” said ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell.


ANEC calls for European associations acting on behalf of societal stakeholders to be made ‘effective members’ of the European Standards Organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI), although we understand that a suggestion to award these associations a vote in the standards-development process was deleted from the Commission proposal at the last moment, following an extraordinary meeting of the Heads of Cabinets. We do not believe this deletion to be logical remembering that the Commission’s own studies show that the contribution of these associations gives a voice to stakeholders who are often absent from the national delegations that lead the development of European standards  in CEN and CENELEC.


Bearing in mind the ageing population of Europe, we also call for European Standards to take into account the needs of all consumers, regardless of age or ability. And, noting the wish of the European Commission to extend the use of European standards to support public policies, as well as legislation on products and services, we think that alternative means of standards development through which the participation of weaker stakeholders can be ensured for standards of exceptional public interest, should be assessed.


Stephen Russell added: “Standards affect us every day and everywhere. For consumers, standards are important as, when they are properly developed and applied, they can make life easier; the products we buy safer, interoperable and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. It is therefore essential that the association representing consumers in standardisation is provided with the means to contribute effectively to the standardisation system to promote the welfare of European citizens, as well as continuing to aid European trade and competitiveness. We expect the Commission to reflect the recommendations made by the Parliament about meeting both the business and societal expectations of European standardisation (in its Resolution of 21 October 2010). Consumers and other societal stakeholders need to be an effective voice in the standardisation process”.



ANEC in brief



Raising standards for consumers


ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation, defending consumer interests in the processes of technical standardisation and conformity assessment as well as related legislation and public policies. ANEC was established in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law and represents consumer organisations from 31 European countries. ANEC is funded by the European Union and EFTA, with national consumer organisations contributing in kind. Its Secretariat is based in Brussels.



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