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European Standardization for SMEs


24 Nov 2009


Innovation & Enterprise

An interactive seminar to showcase what initiatives CEN and CENELEC have taken in terms of strengthening the involvement of SMEs in the standardization process, took place in Brussels last week.

Brussels (24 November 2009) – Standardization can be of importance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) - this was one of the key messages Mrs Françoise Le Bail, Deputy Director General of DG Enterprise and Industry delivered in her keynote address at a CEN-CENELEC SME seminar. Mrs Le Bail further emphasized that the European standardization process can be the gateway to opening opportunities offered for SMEs by the Single Market. The standardization structure in Europe, the National Standards Bodies and Committees, and the European Standardization Organizations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI), must provide a robust framework for consensus building where SMEs are adequately represented.

Establishing the need to improve the access of SMEs to standardization and the participation of SMEs in the standardization process, was a common theme to the event. A number of different projects were presented: the ‘CEN – CENELEC SME Access to Standardization Project Study’; the ‘SME Standardization Toolkit (SMEST) and the results of the SMEST workshops held in 11 member countries; a CEN-CENELEC Working Group formed to produce guidance to help SME participation (and chaired by NORMAPME, the specialist association for involvement of SMEs in European standardization), and an ETSI project helping SMEs to participate in communications standards issues. Through these initiatives standards bodies are exploring ways to make it easier for SMEs to ealise the benefits of standards, have better access to standards and make standards easier to understand.

The national standards organizations have an important role in this, as the primary contact point for SMEs. They know the national situation and work in local languages.

A number of interesting case studies were presented. The role of the Chambers of Commerce was highlighted by the Confederation of European Pest Control Associations, which is currently proposing standards activities. Elysee Irrigation, an SME from Cyprus, presented its experiences in participating in European standards work. A current CEN activity helping to involve SMEs in eBusiness was also introduced by the ‘Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft Köln Consult’.

The main message of the seminar was: SME organizations and the standardization community need to combine their efforts in a practical way, bringing together the results of these projects and implement the recommendations made. CEN and CENELEC will provide support for this in 2010 and beyond, said Mrs Elena Santiago, Director-General of CENELEC.