The short story is, the Commission has
a proposal on the table for a slight update to the inner workings of
European Standardization. The key part of the proposal has the form
of a Regulation. The regulation would recognize technical
specifications in the field of ICT. However, a public body must
first apply for recognition of such specification, so this is not
akin to "opening the floodgates" to all kinds of
specifications. Also, the Commission, working with an advisory
multi-stakeholder platform must find they have been developed in the
open and transparent manner in which standards should be developed.
Global and open standards matter in ICT
Open standards are commonly understood to be agreed upon
specifications that are developed in accountable and transparent
processes that are open to all stakeholders and widely available and
implementable (this view is fairly common corresponds to the EU’s EIF
definition). Open standards, understood this way, is the only kind of specifications that counts for
governments. Now, standards bodies differ in the way they
provide transparency and openness. While stakeholders might feel the
need to participate wherever standards are made, all should work
towards more openness and transparency, particularly governments. What the Commission has proposed would foster more transparency. This is a key role of government.
The Commission's proposal is fine as is
The effect would be to bring the EU up
to date with the reality of ICT standardization. It is a good thing.
It would not change that much, and it would not destroy the "European
Standardization System" and its possible merits (some are convinced it works well, and I will leave that debate for now).
This proposal is currently being
discussed in Council and Parliament. The gist of it is, some current
beneficiaries of status quo still resist, notably CEN/CENELEC, some
non-ICT industry players worried about spill-over to their sectors,
and some national standards bodies (NSBs). Their position used to be
scrap the whole reform. Given that this does not seem feasible, the
new tactic is: merge Articles 9 and 10. This does not work.
The thing is: the current proposal is
FINE. Merging those two articles is not meaningful. Article 9
defines the basic reform: recognition. Article 10 specifically
applies the reform to the public procurement directives. Both are
necessary and important.
If Council or Parliament want to
introduce any change at all to Articles 9 and 10, here is a
Article 9: Either on proposal from a
public authority referred to in Directive 2004/18/EC or on its own
initiative the Commission may decide to recognise technical
specifications in the field of ICT which are not national, European
or international standards and meet the requirements set out in Annex
II, as ICT standards for referencing in policies and public
Article 10: Recognised ICT standards
referred to in Article 9 shall constitute common technical
specifications referred to in Directives 2004/17/CE and 2004/18/CE,
and Regulation (EC) No 2342/2002.