Commission claims process too slow
By Ophélie Spanneut | Wednesday 23 May 2012
With its new regulation, the European Commission intends to address the problem of the slowness of the standardisation process. According to the executive, “standards must keep pace with the development of technologies and ever faster product development cycles”.
Yet CEN and NORMAPME do not consider this to be a problem. John Ketchell, strategic adviser at CEN-CENELEC, denounces the “slowness myth”. He recognises that the process was slow 20 years ago. It took ten years, for example, to develop standards related to the construction products directive adopted in 1989. However, their efforts were not futile, he adds. The CEN now gives itself three years at most to develop a standard. The average is even 27 months. Ketchell explains that “consensus takes time”. This is also the view of representatives of societal stakeholders, who warn that the consultation of all parties concerned cannot be rushed. According to Ketchell, the Commission is sometimes in a hurry to have a standard adopted, especially on a major policy challenge like electric cars, whereas the CEN is confronted with incompatibilities at industrial level.
Laura Degallaix, secretary-general of ECOS, the organisation that defends environmental interests in standardisation, explains that the danger of an excessively slow process is that legislation may enter into force before standards are adopted, preventing application of the law at technical level. Efforts may also be needed at the Commission, suggests the European Parliament, which wishes to reduce the executive’s internal time limits.