28 / 07 / 2021

EARTO Response to the EC Consultation on EU Standardisation Strategy

To answer the European Commission’s public consultation on the European Standardisation Strategy, EARTO, the network of over 350 RTOs, would like to bring forward the following recommendations:  
EARTO Recommendations:
  1. Adopt a sound EU standardisation strategy recognising and raising awareness about the major economic significance of standards at the European level. This is essential to achieve the Twin Transition and fulfil the objectives of the EU Green Deal and of the European Digital Decade. Ensuring interoperability is even more essential than ever before in fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies, incl. Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart grids, smart sensors, telecom, 5G, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), quantum computing, etc. Every strategy for funding future technologies needs to include standardisation as a key component. This will be key for Europe to keep leading the way in fostering efficient and interoperable standards.
  1. Provide effective incentives and support to all European RD&I actors to contribute and collaborate in European standard-setting activities and to represent European interest in International Standardisation. Technical standards are of great importance to allow European industry to scale up technology developments to new products and services that will be internationally competitive. However, standardisation is costly, and it should be further supported and incentivised both at national and EU levels, and better incorporated into RD&I publicly funded programmes, including Horizon Europe. Standards resulting from research projects should receive equal recognition compared to publications and patents.
  1. Make sure that the EU standardisation strategy does not weaken the well-functioning EU Intellectual Property Rights’ system: standards and patents are complementary. The development of a European standardisation strategy is only possible if it does not weaken the IPRs framework, including for Standard Essential Patents, essential copyrights and associated rights (sui generis database rights). More generally, EU policies should not weaken IPRs in the digital field.
  1. Support the European Patent Office (EPO) and maintain a sufficient number of well-qualified patents courts in Europe to continue to ensure the high quality of EU patents: this is the key for maintaining a healthy patents system. IP’s crucial role in innovation and in fostering knowledge co-creation also needs to be better recognised at EU level, for instance by ensuring a balanced approach between Open Science and IP policy. Further incentives should also be put in place for researchers to efficiently disseminate and exploit their research results and encourage their translation into the commercial world, especially through patent filing.
  1. Promote the use of Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licencing terms as the right investment incentives’ mechanism to make collaborative standardisation successful while ensuring access and market entry for all players. Financial returns from FRAND licensing can be invested to develop new technologies for standards, creating a virtuous circle which guarantees the evolution of standards and their future viability. FRAND is and must remain a two-way street: the rights and obligations must flow to and from licensors and licensees alike.
  Read full EARTO paper