Specifications developed by fora and consortia

Joint position paper of BDI, BITKOM, DIN and DKE

One of the more controversial points in the current debate on the future of the European standardization system is the possibility of making references to work results of fora and consortia. In the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, many specifications developed by industrial consortia - such as OASIS and W3C - are of enormous importance. In its White Book on modernizing ICT standardization within the EU, the European Commission has proposed that it should be possible to make references in EU legislation and measures not only to ICT standards and specifications issued by the three formally recognized European Standardization Organizations (CEN, CENELEC, ETSI), but also to specifications developed by fora and consortia.

At the end of 2010 the BDI (Federation of German Industries), BITKOM (German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media), DIN (German Institute for Standardisation) and DKE (German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE) drew up a paper presenting their joint position in detail. The authors of this paper acknowledge the special significance of many ICT specifications, for example in public procurement procedures. However, they also stress the importance of ensuring that the effectiveness and coherence of the extraordinarily successful European standardization system is maintained when implementing the Commission's proposals.

According to the joint position put forward in this paper, the Commission's suggestions should be given more detail, requiring that direct references may only be made to industrially developed ICT specifications for the purposes of public procurement, or when implementing policies that are not relevant to the New Legislative Framework and New Approach. Furthermore, the paper lists nine prerequisites that must be met when making such references.

The position paper is available in German and English.