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Speech on EU legal package on standardisation - OFE Breakfast Briefing hosted by Malcolm Harbour

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Speech on EU legal package on standardisation - OFE Breakfast Briefing hosted by Malcolm Harbour

  1. 1. Speech – OFE Breakfast Briefing: Global ICT Specifications for Innovation and Growth in Europe Dr. Jochen Friedrich, Chair of the Standardisation Task Force, OpenForum Europe Ladies and Gentleman, If you think back 10 to 15 years, I am sure not many in this room would have predicted the huge impact of the internet and the world wide web on the way we operate, make business, interact and live. People rightly call this the “digital revolution”. And think about the boost in innovation and growth which the web has created. Buzzwords here are “eBusiness”, “eCommerce”, “OnDemand Business” etc. Growth for large, multi- national companies and for a large number of small and medium enterprises, for example all the web-design companies, web-hosting companies, small software and service providers etc. Or think of society: eDemocracy, new ways for participation, availability of information on all possible topics, or – just to mention a recent and very exciting case – the so-called “Arabellion”, the peaceful revolutions in Northern Africa and how people used web-based technologies for networking and organising themselves. Standards and specifications play a critical role in the rise and success of the internet. They enable interoperability so that things work together. So that innovative programs and applications can be developed making use of the web infrastructure level. They make modern IT architectures possible which integrate processes and tools. And now think ahead 10 to 15 years. What will the world look like in 2020 or 2025? Some trends can be seen today. Technologies will more and more be integrated. This helps to optimise processes and optimise the things we are doing. Cloud computing is a hot topic in this respect. We do not need to have everything on our PC or laptop which we carry around. Instead, we have a small device and can get our data which is stored in a cloud. Another hot topic is smart grid. We combine IT technologies with traditional technologies for optimising energy consumption and the distribution of energy and resources. Smarter traffic, smarter
  2. 2. cities, smart water supply etc. could be added. In other words: there is a huge potential for innovation and growth that lies in • the integration of technologies • putting intelligent layers on top of physical layers • the optimisation of processes And again, standards and specifications will play a key role. They will allow the integration of technologies. They will have to be combined for developing new, complex systems. Interoperability of technologies and technology components – and innovation: this is at the core when we discuss about global IT standardisation and about the need of having global ICT specifications available for Europe. Interoperability and Innovation. In its legal package on standardisation the Commission explicitly addresses ICT standardisation: • in the Communication: with a dedicated chapter and an action list • in the draft Regulation: with two explicit Articles – Articles 9 and 10 – and with Annex II Industry unanimously – and I feel comfortable to say so – unanimously supports these proposals. We believe that they adequately address the needs of the ICT sector for changes to the European standardisation system: 1. A large number of highly relevant ICT standardisation takes place in specialised international fora and consortia. In other words: these highly relevant ICT specifications do not come from formally recognised standards bodies like the three European Standards Organisations CEN, CENELEC or ETSI, or like the international ones ISO, IEC and ITU. But the fora/consortia who develop the ICT specifications are not small fora/consortia consisting of a limited number of members. By no means. They are huge, open and transparent, non-profit, global organisations with broad membership. Most prominent examples are OASIS and W3C. And their specifications are used everywhere in the world with large success. In fact, no single IT-Infrastructure or IT system can be 2
  3. 3. built without these specifications from fora/consortia. 2. However, these specifications have so far been outside of the European standardisation system. They could not be used in a straight forward way in policies or in tenders in public procurement. This also mean that there have not been any clear rules for their use in driving innovation programmes, in innovation policy. These issues have been discussed with the Commission in a very broad and open discourse over the last 5 years. What the draft Regulation provides now is very good. It is as lean as possible, but contains the checks-and-balances as necessary: 1. The Regulation integrates global ICT standardisation taking part in fora/consortia into the European standardisation system: ◦ with taking account of the specifics in ICT standardisation – work taking place in global fora/consortia; ◦ without overthrowing the complete European standardisation system which has been very successful in the past; ◦ and without adding more organisations to the European standardisation system but by working on a by-need basis and by looking at specific specifications that are needed. 2. Article 9 provides for the possibility to generally recognise specifications from fora/consortia, case-by-case, and with the condition that the requirements and criteria in Annex II must be met. In this way Article 9 provides for a clear base for the acceptance of fora/consortia specifications regardless whether they are used in policies or in procurement tenders. 3. Article 10 explicitly refers to procurement and complements the rules laid down in the Procurement Directives by giving recognised fora/consortia specifications the same status as technical specifications as defined in the Procurement Directives. This makes it possible to directly reference the recognised specifications from fora/consortia in procurement tenders. 3
  4. 4. And in the Communication the Commission gives some further outline of their strategic thinking, especially as far as the need to reference fora/consortia specifications in policies is concerned for promoting interoperability and for fostering innovation. Moreover, in the Communication the Commission announces that they will install a multi- stakeholder platform as an advisory group to the Commission on ICT standardisation policy – including on the issue of recognising fora/consortia specifications in ICT. In this platform all stakeholders will be represented including Member States, ESOs, SMEs, societal stakeholders (users, consumers), and industry. As the Commission expressed in its earlier ICT White Paper (2008) one of the tasks of the Platform will be to undertake the assessment of fora/consortia specifications against the criteria of Annex II and provide a statement of advice on this to the Commission. With such a procedure it is ensured that all stakeholders are involved in the decision making, including the Members States, the ESOs, the SMEs etc., and can bring up concerns whenever appropriate. As I said earlier, industry strongly supports these proposals and strongly supports Articles 9 and 10 of the draft Regulation. It is balanced and takes all necessary aspects properly into account. Please let me also clarify some myths which are around. • Some say the proposal from the Commission gives fora/consortia specifications the same level as European Standards / European Norms (highest level of a standard in Europe). This is not true. It gives them the same level as technical specifications as defined in the Procurement Directives. • Some say that fora/consortia specifications could simply be transposed into the formal standards bodies and adopted as formal standards. Well, some of them are, indeed. And W3C and OASIS have agreements with ISO in this respect. But they do this transposition essentially for some critical specifications that may be used in regulation/legislation. And by far not all fora/consortia are willing to transpose their specifications. And finally, it would 4
  5. 5. be “overkill” to expect or require that all fora/consortia specifications should be transposed into formal standards. • Some say the proposal allows for fora/consortia specifications to be referenced in legislation. This is not true. Consideratum 3 is very clear that European standards will continue to be developed by the ESOs. The legal package is only concerned with referencing fora/consortia specifications in policies, e.g. for the purpose of industrial policy, for innovation policy (eHealth, eGovernment, etc.). Regarding standards in support of the New Legislative Framework, regarding the New Approach Directives nothing is going to change. • In general, it is worth stressing that the chapter on ICT, that Articles 9 and 10, are not about developing harmonised standards in support of the European common market. They are about making use of ICT specifications that are widely used globally anyway and that are critical for modern ICT systems and infrastructures. Making use of them, implementing them, combining them with other standards and specifications – this is what is addressed here. • Some say that stakeholder involvement, especially of the societal stakeholders and of SMEs, will not be given. This is not true. They will all be part of the ICT Platform and will thus be involved in the assessment of fora/consortia specifications. And I'm sure there are more myths around and more Fear – Uncertainty – and Doubts – more FUD – is spread. Let me now come back to what I addressed at the beginning of my speech: the huge impact of ICT on innovation and growth – and the critical role of global ICT specifications as a driver for innovation in ICT technologies. And let me relate this to the legal package as presented by the Commission, to the strategic directions in the Communication and to the Articles 9 and 10 and Annex II in the Regulation. Putting two and two together gives a concise picture, I believe. It shows why the Commission proposal not only makes sense, but is vital for Europe. There is public procurement. Procurers should be encouraged to reference standards and specifications in tenders. This increases interoperability and creates a level playing field for fair competition. Fora/consortia specifications are essential for modern ICT infrastructures. 5
  6. 6. The criteria in Annex II which are a prerequisite for recognition of fora/consortia specifications ensures that openness, transparency etc. are observed. And there are public policies. programmes for new technologies and systems, innovation policy. The integration of technologies will be a major driver for innovation and growth in the next 10 to 15 years. This means integrating ICT technologies together with other technology layers. And this means that global ICT specifications will be needed for getting on with this. If a government, if the Commission wishes to drive a new technology area, say, like smart grid, and if they want to show global leadership, they need to be able to include reference to fora/consortia specifications as well as to specifications from CENELEC, ETSI and others. And by the way, this also opens new ways for cooperation and leadership in Europe – jointly driven by the ESOs and fora/consortia in support of European policy priorities. There is a current discussion about merging Articles 9 and 10 and limiting it to public procurement – or even moving it out into the Procurement Directives. Let me be very clear on this: this would not solve the issues. It would mean that ICT standardisation remains outside of the European standardisation system. It would mean that there is no common ground for the recognition of fora/consortia specifications and their use in procurement on the one hand and in policies on the other. It would leave uncertainty and unclarity regarding policies. And after all, policy often precedes procurement. Those who want to limit the recognition of fora/consortia standards to procurement will limit the opportunities for innovation and for European leadership in innovation policy. So my conclusion is: The proposal from the Commission for ICT standardisation makes a lot of sense. It integrates global ICT standardisation into the European standardisation system in an appropriate way – and in this respect the legal package itself is highly innovative. It addresses the urgent needs regarding ICT standardisation for Europe. It provides clarity and opens the way for forward looking policy making for innovation and growth in Europe which needs to include global ICT specifications. 6

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