CEN CENELEC | 23 June 2015
The risks of mutual recognition of voluntary industry standards within the context of a future EU - US trade agreement (TTIP) and alternative approaches
As negotiations continue around a potential trade agreement between the US and EU or ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’ (TTIP), the concept of mutual recognition of European and US industry standards has been raised as an option to address perceived barriers to trade in certain sectors.
The European Single Market is underpinned by a voluntary, single standard model whereby one harmonized European standard, developed through consensus in accordance with the requirements of EU Regulation 1025/2012, is accepted as a means of compliance with a given European regulatory requirement for a market with over 500 million citizens.
This paper, prepared by the European Standardization Organizations (ESOs) CEN and CENELEC, sets out the risks to the voluntary single standard system that would arise from the mutual recognition of harmonized European standards with standards developed outside the framework of Regulation 1025/2012. (The paper does not address the opportunities that are known to exist in some industry sectors, where mutual recognition of regulatory requirements may be achievable and beneficial to those industries.)
The principal risks from mutual recognition to the European model for the use of voluntary standards in support of regulation are:
Accepting more than one standard as a means of compliance with a European regulation would breach the fundamental principle that industry need only use one standard to trade across all member countries. It would also open the door to arguments that national standards should similarly be recognized, rather than withdrawn;
Mutual recognition of US standards would increase costs for industry and other
stakeholders, as they would need to be involved in more than one standards development process. It would also be more difficult for EU stakeholders to access US processes than those of the ESOs;
A standard developed outside the governance requirements of European Regulation 1025/2012 would need to demonstrate that it had met the obligations placed on the European system to provide privileged access for European consumers, SMEs and other societal stakeholders in the standardization process;
In the context of a free trade agreement with the US, mutual recognition in Europe of standards developed outside the governance requirements of European Regulation 1025/2012 would advantage US companies importing to Europe without creating any reciprocal benefit for European companies exporting to the US, where mutual recognition would make no change to market access requirements;
In this paper, detail is provided on the risks associated with the mutual recognition of standards in the context of TTIP. A range of alternatives to mutual recognition, that would have a more balanced impact in terms of trade and market access, are also explored.
For the full report, click here.