Standards and SMEs
SMEs represent the strength and the uniqueness of the European economy and society. There are approximately 24 Million in 30 European countries and account for 98% of all enterprises. They contribute to almost two thirds of EU’s gross domestic product and provide more than half of European employment.
There are clear, tangible benefits for SMEs in using standards:
- Facilitates conformity to regulation: regulations allow 'presumption of conformity' for products complying with certain standards.
- Market access: introducing a standard-compliant product into a market where the standard is already established often results in a greater acceptance of the product.
- Costs reduction: Standards allow economies of scale, easier maintenance and support.
- New opportunities: Standards can help define the design of a new product, ensuring it is compatible with other products on the market and establishing a new product on the market.
However, SMEs are often not sufficiently represented in the standardisation process and standards are frequently found not adapted to SMEs’ needs.
The most common issues for SMEs in standards:
- technical/academic language
- non-linear approach
- amount of references to other standards
- length of standard
- clarity of language:
- explanations of terminology
- explanations of the relevance of references
- clarity of scope
- use of illustrations
- explanatory examples
- special provisions for SMEs/ non-series production
- expensive conformity procedures, eg destructive tests
- exclusion of technologies used by SMEs
- development of new standards not needed by SMEs
Better participation of SMEs and representation of their interests in the standardisation processes is needed in order to make standards more SME friendly.
European Standardisation and CE marking – Services for SMEs (NORMAPME leaflet)
Standardisation and SMEs (NORMAPME publication 2004)
CEN/CENELEC SME guide for standard writers
CEN/CENELEC national SME helpdesks