Workshop on Standardisation and Environmental Policies - 29 June 2010

Published 02-07-2010
On 29 June, the EFTA Secretariat hosted a workshop on the role of standardisation as a tool for environmental policies and objectives, organised together with the European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS). The workshop was a contribution to the follow up discussions on the EXPRESS Report which raised the question of how standards can deliver an effective and coordinated response to environmental challenges.

40 participants attended the workshop, chaired by Mr Robert Brett, Chair of CEN's Strategic Advisory Body on the Environment (CEN-SABE). Hyperlinks to the presentations can be found within the text.

EFTA’s Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Bergdis Ellertsdóttir welcomed the participants and emphasised that EFTA is supporting European standardisation (politically as well as financially) together with the European Commission. She furthermore underlined that EFTA believes that there is a great opportunity for policy makers to use standardisation as a tool for environmental policies although there are challenges related to the integration of inter alia environmental stakeholders in the standardisation process. EFTA is aware that all stakeholders do not trust standardisation to be the best tool, and Ms. Ellertsdóttir hoped that the workshop would serve as an opportunity for all participants to contribute with their experience and constructive ideas.

Mr. Roman Grones from DG Enterprise and Industry presented the political and regulatory context of standardisation while Ms. Marta Ballesteros and Ms. Marta Toporek from ClientEarth presented “the integration principle” of Art. 11 TFEU under the Lisbon Treaty and its effect on standards adopted in relation to EU policies and legislation. 

Representing two of the European Standardisation Organisations, Mr. Ashok Ganesh and Ms. Bénédicte Delloye from the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre (CCMC) outlined the different types of standards, relating to terminology, measurement and test methods, management and product and service specifications, which may be developed in support of environmental policies, and also how the CCMC works to integrate environmental aspects into standards.

From the ECOS Secretariat, Mr. Stamatis Sivitos illustrated, via the example of flame retardants, how standardisation can go wrong regarding environmental aspects, if the voice of environment stakeholders is not strong enough.

Ms. Eva Eiderström from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation presented the point of view from an NGO. She explained that the environmental NGO’s usually do not prioritise participation in standards development. However if they do, the problem is lack of sufficient (long-term) financial resources.

The last presentation of the workshop was given by Mr. Christian Tebert from Ökopol consultancy who used the case of solid recovered fuels to illustrate the challenges connected to the relationship between legislation and standardisation when it comes to implementing environmental policies. His presentation showed that when a European Commission and EFTA mandate does not stipulate maximum emission levels, the final standard may accept very high emission levels of toxic substances. To avoid this, Mr. Tebert recommended that the European Commission follow the standards development process more closely.

The workshop succeeded in facilitating interesting discussions on how the integration of environmental aspects in standardisation can be enhanced. The lack of proper funding of environmental stakeholders was mentioned by several participants. Should the environmental voice in standardising be strengthened at national and/or European level (ECOS)? The lack of a balanced stakeholder participation in standards development when environmental interests are at stake was characterised as an institutional weakness of the European Standardisation System. Given the crucial role the European Commission and EFTA standardisation mandates play, a clear concern was expressed with regard to how development and coordination takes place when mandates are prepared. On the other hand, stakeholders can influence the mandates through their national governments.

The workshop confirmed that there are varied and good opportunities for using standardisation as an excellent tool for environmental policies, but that there also are challenges with regard to balanced stakeholder participation in the current standardisation system which need to be further addressed.



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