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New EU rules on standardization to boost IT procurement

PCWorld - The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a new system for standards, including IT specifications, across the EU.

The regulation, which modernizes the EU standardization system, was passed by a huge majority—639 votes in favor, 18 against, and 17 abstentions.

Standards are voluntary guidelines that provide technical specifications for manufacturers to ensure interoperability. Although companies are not required by law to work to standards, doing so gives them faster and wider access to the market.

In Europe, cooperation on standards is managed by three independent organizations, CEN (European Committee for Standardization), CENELEC (European Committee for Electro-technical Standardization) and ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), national standardization bodies and the European Commission.

However, the new regulation will open up the system to technical specifications developed by private fora and consortia outside Europe, such as the World Wide Web Consortium, in areas where there are no European standards or where existing standards have not been taken up by the market.

Only 34 percent of all European standards have been mandated by the European Commission, meaning that most are initiated by industry and privately driven.