Statement made on 27 Feb 2009


Standardization plays a crucial role in the development of the software industry, as it is a key element for innovation and interoperability. However, due to the rapid evolution of the industry, many standardization developments have occurred outside the process of the official standardization bodies and have led to the rise of de facto standards and of non-formal standardization organizations. At the same time, the official standardization bodies have made considerable efforts to adapt to the pace required for the making of standards in the ICT industry. Over time, this has led to a fragmentation and a need for an in-depth reflection on the coherence and efficiency of the entire landscape.

Standards have to respect three major principles: their initiation and drafting have to be market-led, their acceptance and usage have to be voluntary and flexible and the development process should be open and transparent, .allowing for implementation in a range of competitive products to ensure consumer choice. Moreover, given the international character of the industry, it is important for Europe to focus its efforts on benefiting and influencing the development of international standards, rather than on promoting European standards once they have been adopted. This should also apply to the reference of standards in public procurement.

The software industry, notably via the European Software Association, has been involved with this reflection work carried out by the European Commission, most recently the "EU study on the specific policy needs for ICT standardization" of July 2007, and "The Way Forward" document prepared in view to the Open Meeting of February 2008, and have participated in the activities of the ICT Standardization Steering Committee. This work has led to a broad conclusion that the European standardization system needs improvements rather than a fundamental reform.


  1. The Commission should engage in an upfront consultation prior to the issuing of a mandate
  2. The Commission should consider the possibility for informal standards to be directly referenced in EU policies (provided that certain criteria are met).
  3. Continuing dialogue should take place between standards bodies, governments, industry and users in the EC Steering Committee or a multi stakeholder platform.
  4. An evaluation of IPR policies currently used in the standardization process, not exclusively focusing on problems, should take place
  5. The dialogue between the different standards bodies, governments, industry and users should continue to achieve a better understanding of the definition of an open standard.
  6. Further participation of SMEs and their industry associations in the standardization processes should be encouraged