Europe to move towards more flexible standardisation

The Puzzle of EU Standards

The Puzzle of EU Standards

The EU takes steps to regulate  standardisation processes and their role in public procurement.

“More Standards for Europe and faster: this is the main objective of a series of measures that the European Commission proposed on 1 June 2011. Standards are sets of voluntary technical and quality criteria for products, services and production processes. Nobody is obliged to use or apply them but they help businesses in working together which ultimately saves money for the consumer.” See press release here.

According to Walter van Holst:

“The gist of it is:
– It acknowledges that traditional standardisation bodies are lacking
in speed, accountability and transparancy;
– It acknowledges the importance of standards;
– It acknowledges that traditional standardisation bodies are hardly
relevant in ICT;

Among other things it includes a proposal to:

– Recognise certain standards as set by ‘consortia’ (meaning W3C, IETF
etc.) as of equal importance as those set by traditional standardisation
bodies.
– Introduce a process at the European level for such recognition,
including criteria such as FRAND licensing of relevant patents;

This is of great importance. A rule in European tendering procedures
for public procurement is the ‘objectivity principle’, which means that
if a European technical standard (as formulated by a traditional
standardisation body) is relevant to award a tender, it must be used as
a criterium. This rule is mostly ignored in ICT-tendering procedures,
partly because ISO c.s. are nowhere near as relevant in the ICT context
as they are in other industries.

As it is, this may be a great opportunity for proponents of FLOSS. For
example, if ODF, HTML 5, CalDav, CardDav, IMAP and LDAP would be
proposed and accepted, this might severely impact the stranglehold of
Microsoft on the market. ”

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