Communication – ICT standardisation priorities for the digital single market

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Series Details (2016) 176 final (19.4.16)
Publication Date 19/04/2016
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The transformation of the global economy to a digital economy affects all industrial and service sectors. Europe's competitiveness and productivity crucially depends on its ability to generate, scale-up, and effectively harness digital innovations across all sectors of the economy including Europe's traditional strengths such as vehicle manufacturing, automation, machine equipment or financial services. To support Europe’s role in the global digital economy, the European Commission has adopted a communication on a Digital Single Market strategy, and has made it one of its key priorities.

Common standards ensure the interoperability of digital technologies and are the foundation of an effective Digital Single Market. They guarantee that technologies work smoothly and reliably together, provide economies of scale, foster research and innovation and keep markets open. Effective interoperability guarantees that connected devices such as cars, phones, appliances and industrial equipment can communicate seamlessly with each other, regardless of manufacturer, operating system, or other technical components. Open standards ensure such interoperability, and foster innovation and low market entry barriers in the Digital Single Market, including for access to media, cultural and educational content. Differing national standards may significantly slow down innovation and put European businesses at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

The recent revision of the EU's standardisation policy resulted in the adoption of Regulation 1025/2012 on European Standardisation and the creation of a framework for a more transparent, efficient and effective European standardisation system for all industry sectors. This Regulation emphasised the fast evolution of ICT and the way in which new products and services, such as ‘smart’ or connected devices (referred to as the ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT) or the Cloud, transform markets.

To address the challenges related to ICT standardisation, the Commission announced that it would “launch an integrated standardisation plan to identify and define key priorities for standardisation with a focus on the technologies and domains that are deemed to be critical to the Digital Single Market”. In its Conclusions of 25 and 26 June 2015, the European Council "agreed that action must be taken (…) on key components of the Commission communication, notably to identify and deliver rapidly on the key ICT standardisation priorities".

This Communication builds on Regulation 1025/2012 and is linked to the planned Joint Initiative on Standardisation that is part of the wider Single Market Strategy.

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