The legal basis for the current EU ICT standardisation policy, Directive 98/34 provides formal recognition of the role of the European standardisation organisations (ESOs - CEN, CENELEC and ETSI), which enables the EU to refer to European standards established by those organisations in legislation and policies. The earlier Council Decision (CD) 87/95 recognises certain ICT specificities such as the need for interoperability and it allows for some flexibility in case of referencing ICT standards in public procurement.
In its 2004 Communication on the role of European standardisation the Commission proposed to initiate a strategic review, together with Member States and stakeholders that would target how all players involved in ICT standardisation could better match the challenges of responding to societal and market needs.
In the Council conclusions of December 2004 on European standardisation, the need to make further progress in the application of standardisation to areas such as ICT was stressed. The Competitiveness Council of 4 December 2006 again noted that the current European standardisation system had to adapt to the needs of fast-moving markets, especially, in services and high-technology products.
The Commission then launched a study to analyse current EU ICT standardisation policy and make recommendations for its future development. The study was accompanied by a steering committee bringing together Member States and stakeholders, including industry, SMEs and formal and informal standards developing organisations. The final report of the study was published in July 2007 and following a web-based public consultation, the comments received were published on the Europa website and an open conference was held in February 2008.
The Commission Communication on standardisation and innovation announced the main subjects for the revision of ICT standardisation policy, adding that it would seek a broad agreement on its intentions before following up with policy proposals, in particular regarding the possible revision of Council Decision 87/95.
In its conclusions on standardisation and innovation, the Competitiveness Council of September 2008, also took the view that it would be very helpful for European standardisation bodies to exploit possible synergies with standardisation fora and consortia and endorsed the desire of the Commission to support a better use of standards in matters relating to ICT.
As a result of this process, it was decided to prepare the present White Paper to ascertain the degree of consensus on the possible revision of ICT standardisation policy by submitting the results of the work to date to public consultation. You can find below:
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