EU plans to update, accelerate setting of service standards

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission outlined plans on Wednesday to modernize and speed up the way in which it agrees technical standards for services, to ensure that Europe is at the center of setting global norms.

In April, the Commission already proposed measures to accelerate the standard-setting process for IT with five priority areas of focus – 5G, cloud computing, the internet of things, data technologies and cyber security.

Its latest plans recommend a focus on services, which account for 70 percent of the EU economy but represent only about 2 percent of all European standards.

Such standards could include terminology on hotels and other tourist accommodation or the requirements of services offered by customer contact centers.

The Commission said such common standards clarifying expectations between services providers and customers could reduce costs for companies, particularly smaller enterprises, and ease their access to other markets.

The Commission is proposing the creation of the Joint Initiative on Standardisation (JIS), a group including standardization bodies, member states, trade unions and consumer and environmental organization to be launched on June 12. It would aim to develop concrete actions by the end of 2019.

The Commission said it had received complaints from businesses about barriers involving national service standards and certification schemes that made it harder to offer services across Europe.

The European Union already has some 20,000 European voluntary and market-driven standards and 3,000 harmonized standards developed by the European standardization organizations covering products from paper size to mobile phone technologies.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop)