Europe's new standardization strategy - my take

Europe's new standardization strategy - my take

    Today, Thierry Breton and Margrethe Vestager presented the EU's long-awaited new tech standardization strategy. Is it living up to the expectations?

    Today’s (2 February) publication of the EU’s new tech standardization strategy marks a shift towards a more geopolitical approach. The strategy is a significant step forward, but pitfalls remain. To understand what needs to come next, read a my key takeaways, my DGAP online commentary and press comments.

    The promises of the strategy in short:

    + The EU preserves its bottom-up approach, but complements it with a strategic top-down element: a high-level standardization forum. This is a good balance between preserving a strong system and adapting policy to recent international developments.

    + Harmonized European Norms will turn into the exclusive purview of National Standard Bodies. This weakens non-EU industry, in particular Asian and American tech giants. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute will need to be reformed if it wants to remain an ESO. This might weaken ETSI, but it curbs the risk of losing more strategic autonomy.

    + The EU mobilizes indigenous standard setting expertise and infrastructure. It strengthens the standardization component of research funding and support standard education.

    + The Commission puts pressure on EU members-states to get strategic and engage in European coordination.


    - The strategy does not promise any substantial additional financial resources dedicated to European standardization. SMEs, civil society and academia will find it hard to gain presence in standardization without additional public funding.

    - The necessary acceleration of European standards publication remains vague.

    - New excellence hub could serve as starting point for more common specifications undermining the existing system.

    Turn to the member-states:

    Member-states will need to actively support the new strategy because national agencies represent Europe in international standardization. Of particular interest: How will Germany, Europe’s principal standardization power, position itself.

    For more, read my takes:

    Publication: The Rise of Tech Standards Foriegn Policy: Brussels goes strategic. DGAP Online Commentary.

    Publication: Standardisierung. Deutschland ist am Zug. Berlin: DGAP Online Commentary.

    Media (in German): Deutschland ist am Zug. Tagesspiegel Background. 2 February 2022.

    Media (in German): EU stoppt Einfluss chinesischer Unternehmen auf europäische Normen. Handelsblatt. 2 February 2022.

    Media (in Dutch): Europa bindt strijd aan met China: wie bepaalt wat de standaard is?", NRC, 2 February 2022.