Today, the European Commission achieved the next milestone in implementing the Digital Single Market (DSM), with the publication of a Communications package consisting of the Priority ICT Standards Plan (PISP), and of Communications on Digitisation, Cloud and the eGovernment Action Plan. With these initiatives the Commission focuses on the major technologies involved in the digital transformation of economies and societies. A common theme throughout is the recognition of the key role which standards can play in supporting an open and competitive ecosystem in which the new technologies can evolve and their promulgation can be promoted.
With the Priority ICT Standards Plan, the Commission sets the right priorities. The PISP effectively complements the EU Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation in providing a higher level of prioritisation and strategic directions in relation to the DSM and supporting its objectives. The PISP shows a high level of understanding of how standardisation works and how available, horizontal technology standards have created the basis for innovative new systems of technologies. Hence major new standards developments are not required. The strong focus on promoting the uptake of technologies, bringing stakeholders together, promoting collaboration and avoiding fragmentation can have great effects on market development. Moreover, not only will concentration on the identified priority areas foster innovation and progress in these six domains, it will also have positive network effects for a broad spectrum of technologies and policy areas.
To the extent that any “European” standards diverge from global standards, this would most likely isolate Europe and create serious barriers for innovation and for the competitiveness of industry in Europe.
Jochen Friedrich, Chair of OFE’s Standardisation Task force commented: “The PISP is based on broad consultation gathered through substantial advice from the EU MultiStakeholder Platform (MSP) on ICT Standardisation and a public consultation. The development of the PISP is an example of the excellent collaboration established in the ICT sector through the MSP. Collaboration between policy makers, industry and all other stakeholders at an early stage matters, and leads to high-level results.”
All four Communications published today rightly put strong focus on the importance of international and global standards. Europe is a global leader in a number of the technologies addressed, for example, in telecommunications, Internet of Things, etc. Global success, however, is only possible by making effective use of and driving global and international standardisation. To the extent that any “European” standards diverge from global standards, this would most likely isolate Europe and create serious barriers for innovation and for the competitiveness of industry in Europe.
The European Commission is also right that successful standards need to be market driven and developed using bottom-up processes involving key experts in the respective technology domain. Successful standards can never be mandated; instead, they evolve out of market needs and business considerations. Policy makers can promote the implementation of standards by putting strong emphasis on open technologies, interoperability and standardsbased technology solutions.
Today’s Communications, and the respective proposed action points, point in this direction and need to be understood that way. If delivered upon, they could prove to be a powerful milestone in the process for the digitisation of economies and societies, as well as in innovation and growth.
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