measuring tool for topic standards; Quelle: istockphoto.com/Zheka-Boss Enlarge

© istockphoto.com/Zheka-Boss

Standardisation policy is an integral element of Germany’s economic and innovation policies. Standards define the state of the art in technology in almost all areas of our lives, and they stipulate the requirements that products and services must fulfil. They enable systems to function, they assure quality, they create transparency, and they protect consumers.

Standards are an integral component of our commercial and legal order and serve as a key reference point in important fields such as occupational safety and environmental protection. They have deregulatory and market-opening effects that serve to enhance Germany’s competitiveness as an economic power and as an exporter. Standards can also help to reduce the amount of time needed for innovations to become widely available on the market.

The future of standardisation

Standards strengthen Germany’s leading position in international competition, but are also facing great challenges. In view of the globalised, digital future, the DIN has published the German Standardisation Strategy setting out the key goals for the coming years.

Against this background, the Economic Affairs Ministry has commissioned the Institute for Innovation and Technology to undertake a study (in German) surveying experts on the future of standardisation. The final report was presented by the Economic Affairs Ministry on 19 May 2017 and contains a comprehensive survey of the current situation, indicates possible responses, and provides suggestions for the future of the standardisation system.

Continuing the dialogue on the future of standardisation

The next step is to establish a dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders in order to derive the necessary conclusions for standardisation policy. For example, leading representatives discussed the role of Standardisation 2030 and possibilities to shape standardisation policy in the light of the special requirements of ICT from 24-28 April 2017 at Hannover Messe.

The Economic Affairs Ministry invited the experts to continue the discussion at the Standardisation 2030 expert forum on 19 May 2017. The results of the discussion are feeding into the Economic Affairs Ministry’s strategic thinking about the Federal Government’s standardisation policy concept.

Standardisation policy concept

The Federal Government sets out its objectives in the field of standardisation policy in the standardisation policy concept (in German) (PDF, 103KB). One policy focus is the targeted promotion of innovation via standardisation. To this end, the Economic Affairs Ministry has initiated two related projects on “Innovation and standards” and “Transfer of research and development findings via standardisation”.

Standardisation is primarily an international task which serves to reduce technical barriers to trade, to foster a more rapid dissemination of innovations, and to flesh out technology-related legislation. The Economic Affairs Ministry therefore actively supports bilateral cooperation on standardisation with key strategic partner countries in order to open up (new) export markets for German industry and commerce. Companies and business associations are offered various platforms on which they can articulate their interests. They are called on to report standardisation-related barriers to international trade in goods.

Standardisation: the responsibility of the private sector

Standardisation is basically the responsibility of the private sector. The Economic Affairs Ministry shapes the national, European (in German) (PDF, 891KB) and international policy context. For example, the DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) is recognised in international agreements as the German standardisation body which represents our interests at European and international level. The DIN safeguards the democratic legitimacy of standards via a consensus-based procedure, producing a universally accepted set of rules. It ensures that procedures are transparent and open, and there is non-discriminatory access to standardisation work and its results. The public sector is an interested party in the standardisation work.