Consensus reached: the EU Single Market is the key asset of the EU

Takeaways from APPLiA's first policy webinar.

The EU Single Market for business and consumers 

Michał Zakrzewski
APPLiA, Smart & Competitiveness Policy Director

Chiara Giovannini
ANEC Senior Manager Policy & Innovation

Radek Maly
DG GROW, Standards for Europe, Head of Unit

Andreea Gulacsi
CEN-CENELEC, Director Governance & Partnerships

Claudia Martinez Felix
DG GROW, Deputy Head of Unit

Alexander Eisenberg
BSH, Head of Office EU Technical Market Access

Consensus reached: the EU Single Market is the key asset of the EU

“The Single Market is the key asset of the EU and it is crucial to keep it working very well, especially in this unusual time”. stated Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA’s Director General, to welcome the panelists and attendees of the first APPLiA’s policy webinar “The EU Single Market for business and consumers.” In the global arena, the engine ensures EU competitiveness, and within the Union, it builds consumer trust in products.

Who could tell us more about this engine than experts who are working to make it work at its best, everyday? APPLiA invited different stakeholders, representing different sectors, but all working towards the same direction.

“The EU Single Market is the key achievement of the European Union” started Michał Zakrzewski, APPLiA’s Smart & Competitiveness Policy Director. He shared the top two requirements to make it run smoothly: the timely listing of standards in the Official Journal, which grants manufacturers presumption of conformity of products and a coordinated and effective Market Surveillance System. “Today is a great opportunity to discuss how we can improve the situation” he added, welcoming the other panelists upcoming interventions.

“Safety is a consumer need and, in products, it is ensured by standards.” stated Chiara Giovannini, ANEC Senior Manager Policy & Innovation. Consumer needs are changing with the time, she explained. With digitalisation, for instance. “In this context, we need supportive legislation to set essential requirements for products to be safe and secure when they are put on the market.” she continued. Chiara Giovannini reminded us also of the important role that Market Surveillance Authorities play in this context and commented that, currently, the system is too fragmented. 

It was then Radek Maly’s turn, Head of Unit for Standardisation in the EU Commission, who started by saying that the Single Market removes the need fot 27 competing standards and is thus extremely important for the EU.  “The system is based on consensus, co-regulation, inclusiveness and on a public-private structure” he said, “and it empowers the industry, by offering protection to consumers.” Yet, the fast changing environment in which we live, makes it challenging for the system to be speedy and efficient enough. “Focusing on the topic and investing resources on standardisation are key actions to be taken forward by the EU Commission” concluded Radek Maly.

“Standards are the invisible engine of the Single Market and we need an engine that works smoothly.” kicked off Andreea Gulacsi, CEN-CENELEC, Director Governance & Partnerships. Why are they so crucial? They ensure safety and quality, remove barriers, offer state-of-the-art solutions and they are part of a solid system. In the global arena, standards enable the EU to be an economic leader. “There is a new era for standardisation coming” she added “and the 2030 strategy aims to build a stronger relationship with EU regulators to exploit the system at its best capacity.” On the opportunities side, there is that of empowering the New Legislative Framework, which is already in place. As for the challenges? The revision of the Blue Guide and the risk of missing the opportunity of an European Recovery, sustainable and digital.

Another expert from the EU Commission, Claudia Martinez Felix, Deputy Head of Unit in DG GROW, brought her contribution to the virtual table. “We are working to evaluate the framework. We see the new approach as a very successful regulatory framework and we have interest in keeping it working with the same principles.” She then mentioned the changing environment, with the push towards green transformation and digitalisation, which means that legislation has to bring new, greener products, forward.

“Imagine that the EU is a ship” said Alexander Eisenberg, BSH, Head of Office EU Technical Market Access, inviting attendees to think about the metaphor. “The Single Market is the engine. Firstly, it’s very big and complex, secondly, it works well only if you know how to make it work smoothly.” A key role is then played by Market Surveillance Authorities and a balance must be found between the two, regulation and standardisation. “To us, the link is the timely listing of standards, which gives presumption of conformity. Currently, not everything is listed where it should be and the process is slowed down.” How to improve? Working together to have most standards listed is crucial. Going back to the ship example, “If you’re on the boat and have no oil left, it doesn't matter who forgot to fill it, what matters is to make things run.” he said. He and the other panelists shared many other valuable thoughts, which can be listened to again here, if you missed the webinar.

On the same topic, APPLiA’s White Paper on Standardisation.

YouTube streaming.