Sunday, 23 April 2017

Brussels bubble: Best alphabet soup ever?

Today, 23 April 2017, is the annual World Book Day, the event of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as  presented by Wikipedia.

With readers and writers in mind, let us remember the “Brussels style guide” in 24 EU languages, officially the Interinstitutional style guide, as a tool to make sense of the mythological Tower of Babel for those who write for the European Union in a professional capacity.

The Brussels bubble can be seen as an isolated expat community (Euractiv), be run as an insider section (Politico), or derided as a world apart from the EU’s citizens (Open Democracy), often in the same vein as Washington DC has been pictured at least since Mark Twain, up to and including the Trump presidential campaign.

Brussels bubblese

If the Brussels bubble is routinely accused of being an incomprehensible alphabet soup kitchen, let us turn to a prime example of the language of the bubble, Brussels bubblese, an exquisite compilation of abbreviations and acronyms: the (133 pages) Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation 2017.

On page 8 of the Rolling Plan, you find the following expression of gratitude:

The Commission would like to thank all Members of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation for their active collaboration and for making this document possible: the EU Member States, EFTA States, standard setting organisations (ETSI, CEN, CENELEC, ISO, IEEE, IEC, ITU, OMG, IETF/IAB, OASIS, Ecma, W3C/ERCIM, UN/CEFACT), industry associations (Business Europe, Cable Europe, Digital Europe, ECIS, ETNO, EBU, EuroISPA, SBS, OFE, Orgalime) and stakeholder associations (AGE, ANEC, ECOS, EDF, ETUC).

You might need the antidote offered by Annex III: Terms, definitions and abbreviations (from page 131), where some of the abbreviations and acronyms are explained.

***

I cannot be sure that this is is the best alphabet soup ever presented in Brussels bubblese, but I challenge you to bring forward more eminent examples.


Ralf Grahn

ICT Standardisation Priorities for the DSM

In the blog entry ICT standardisation in EU digital single market context, I tried to present the framework for the ICT (information and communication technology) DSM (digital single market) standardisation communication the European Commission published ahead of the general European standardisation package:

ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market; Brussels, 19.4.2016 COM(2016) 176 final (14 pages)

In section 3.1. Five priority domains: the building blocks of ICT standard setting (p. 5) the Commission presented its priority areas:

The Commission has identified the following priority areas: 5G communications, cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), (big) data technologies and cybersecurity. These are the essential technology building blocks of the Digital Single Market.

In addition, the Commission hoped for positive effects in other areas (p.5):

Areas such as eHealth, smart energy, intelligent transport systems and connected and automated vehicles, including trains, advanced manufacturing, smart homes and cities and smart farming will significantly benefit from the proposed prioritisation of standards, as they rely on the essential building blocks identified. A regular review of the priorities is planned so as to respond to changes in technology and society.

This set the course for future action (p. 6):

The actions identified in this Communication aim to raise the political and strategic importance of ICT standardisation as a crucial element of the Digital Single Market, in response to growing global competition. They aim to improve the focus, agility and efficiency of the standards setting system in ICT. They encourage new approaches in standardisation, such as promoting community building, attracting new sectors, promoting open standards and platforms where needed, strengthening the link between research and standardisation, including testing of the standards, promoting consistent application of standards and their uptake by the market, developing when needed certification schemes.
The priorities selected will complement other standardisation instruments used to implement European standardisation policy. In addition to the planned Joint Initiative on European standardisation, these are the Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation, and the Annual Union Work Programme.

After discussing the technical areas in more detail, the communication turned to governance in section 3.2. A high-level commitment to deliver and ensure leadership through standards (from page 12):

The Commission therefore proposes a high-level process to achieve the prioritised actions. This process will build on and complement the European Multi-stakeholders Platform, the ICT Rolling Plan on ICT Standardisation and the Annual Union Work Programme for European Standardisation as delivery mechanisms for standards and standardisation deliverables.

The Commission then went on to describe the new elements under the following headings:

1) Validation of priorities and improving the efficiency of the standard-setting process in Europe
2) Regularly reviewing and monitoring progress
3) Improving EU support to ICT priority standardisation
4) Ensuring fair and non-discriminatory access
5) Strengthening the EU's presence in international dialogue and cooperation on ICT standards

With regard to globalisation, the Commission highlighted the need for international cooperation (p. 14):

Reflecting the global nature of digital technology development, the Commission will continue to proactively engage with key international partners (such as the US, China, Japan, South Korea) to ensure global alignment of priorities in the ICT domain, and a consistent approach to standard setting. The Commission intends to identify, by mid-2016, possibilities for setting-up and funding a supporting mechanism to monitor on-going work and support the participation of European experts in the relevant international standardisation and other fora working on the ICT priority areas.

Finally, the Commission presented a summary of its future actions:

- launch by 2017 a regular inter-institutional dialogue on European standardisation, highlighting – inter alia – ICT priorities in order to take stock of progress on the deliverables – and where necessary – to adapt the priorities. The Commission intends to include such regular dialogue in the foreseen Joint Initiative on Standardisation.

- work in collaboration with stakeholders including ESOs, EPO, industry and research, on the identification, by 2017, of possible measures to (i) improve accessibility and reliability of information on patent scope, including measures to increase the transparency and quality of standard essential patent declarations as well as (ii) to clarify core elements of an equitable, effective and enforceable licensing methodology around FRAND principles and (iii) to facilitate the efficient and balanced settlement of disputes.

– as of mid-2016, investigate possibilities for setting up and funding supporting mechanism to strengthen European participation in global standard setting, by monitoring global standardisation activities in the ICT domain, and support the wider participation of European experts.


Rolling Plan

For an update on the activities, you can turn to the executive summary or the whole (133 pages) Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation 2017.  

If you are content with an overview, the first 13 pages of the ICT standardisation plan offer you a fair orientation:

  • Executive summary of the sections of the Rolling Plan 2017 organised around four thematic areas: key enablers, societal challenges, innovation for the single market and sustainable growth.
  • The strategic role of ICT standardisation in the context of EU policy making
  • Promoting the implementation of standards
  • EU policy areas supported by ICT standardisation


Alphabet soup

To end on a more flippant note, if the Brussels bubble is routinely accused of being an alphabet soup kitchen, right now the Rolling Plan offers the best concentration of Brussels bubblese I remember having come across (p. 8):

The Commission would like to thank all Members of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation for their active collaboration and for making this document possible: the EU Member States, EFTA States, standard setting organisations (ETSI, CEN, CENELEC, ISO, IEEE, IEC, ITU, OMG, IETF/IAB, OASIS, Ecma, W3C/ERCIM, UN/CEFACT), industry associations (Business Europe, Cable Europe, Digital Europe, ECIS, ETNO, EBU, EuroISPA, SBS, OFE, Orgalime) and stakeholder associations (AGE, ANEC, ECOS, EDF, ETUC).

You might need the antidote offered by Annex III: Terms, definitions and abbreviations (from page 131), where some of the abbreviations and acronyms are explained.  


Ralf Grahn

Saturday, 22 April 2017

ICT standardisation in EU digital single market context

A little before the European standardisation package, the Commission published a communication related to the digital single market, on standardisation regarding information and communication technology (ICT) :

ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market; Brussels, 19.4.2016 COM(2016) 176 final (14 pages)

The aim of this blog post is to put ICT standardisation into the context of the (future) digital single market.


Juncker’s political guidelines

The 2014 political guidelines of Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker contain ten priorities; among them (as number 2) is a connected digital single market, as presented in the publication A New Start for Europe.

Juncker’s aims are worth remembering:

I believe that we must make much better use of the great opportunities offered by digital technologies, which know no borders. To do so, we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in the application of competition law.

If we do this, we can ensure that European citizens will soon be able to use their mobile phones across Europe without having to pay roaming charges. We can ensure that consumers can access services, music, movies and sports events on their electronic devices wherever they are in Europe and regardless of borders. We can create a fair level playing field where all companies offering their goods or services in the European Union are subject to the same data protection and consumer rules, regardless of where their server is based. By creating a connected digital single market, we can generate up to € 250 billion of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, notably for younger job-seekers, and a vibrant knowledge-based society.

To achieve this, I intend to take, within the first six months of my mandate, ambitious legislative steps towards a connected digital single market, notably by swiftly concluding negotiations on common European data protection rules; by adding more ambition to the ongoing reform of our telecoms rules; by modernising copyright rules in the light of the digital revolution and changed consumer behaviour; and by modernising and simplifying consumer rules for online and digital purchases. This should go hand-in-hand with efforts to boost digital skills and learning across society and to facilitate the creation of innovative start-ups. Enhancing the use of digital technologies and online services should become a horizontal policy, covering all sectors of the economy and of the public sector.

Annually the European Commission adopts its work programme (CWP in Brussels bubblese). In the 2015 CWP communication Commission Work Programme 2015 - A New Start COM(2014) 910, the Commission outlined the promised digital single market strategy (page 6), also mentioned in the annex with new initiatives.


Digital single market

During its first full year in office, the Juncker Commission published the communication, as promised:

A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe; Brussels, 6.5.2015 COM(2015) 192 final (20 pages)

The DSM communication was accompanied by the valuable Commission staff working document underpinning the proposed actions:

A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe - Analysis and Evidence; Brussels, 6.5.2015 SWD(2015) 100 final (109 pages)
An introductory digital single market blog post on my Finnish blog Eurooppaoikeus: EU:n digitaalisten sisämarkkinoiden strategia (11 April 2017).

The DSM Communication COM(2015) 192 started (p. 2) with the same quote from the political guidelines we saw above, before presenting the three pillars of the digital single market strategy:

  • Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe – this requires the rapid removal of key differences between the online and offline worlds to break down barriers to cross-border online activity.  
  • Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish – this requires high-speed, secure and trustworthy infrastructures and content services, supported by the right regulatory conditions for innovation, investment, fair competition and a level playing field.  
  • Maximising the growth potential of our European Digital Economy – this requires investment in ICT infrastructures and technologies such as Cloud computing and Big Data, and research and innovation to boost industrial competi[ti]veness as well as better public services, inclusiveness and skills.  

Standards came into play in section 4.2. Boosting competitiveness through interoperability and standardisation (p. 15-16), including this paragraph:

Standardisation has an essential role to play in increasing interoperability of new technologies within the Digital Single Market. It can help steer the development of new technologies such as 5G wireless communications, digitisation of manufacturing (Industry 4.0) and construction processes, data driven services, cloud services, cybersecurity, e-health, e-transport and mobile payments. The EU Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation is an essential instrument in this regard. However, an increased effort is needed to ensure that standardisation output keeps pace with changes in technologies. Currently, industry stakeholders decide 'bottom-up' in which areas to develop standards and this is increasingly taking place outside of Europe, undermining our long-term competitiveness. We need to define missing technological standards that are essential for supporting the digitisation of our industrial and services sectors (e.g. Internet of Things, cybersecurity, big data and cloud computing) and mandating standardisation bodies for fast delivery.

This boiled down to the promised action (p. 20):

  • Adoption of a Priority ICT Standards Plan and extending the European Interoperability Framework for public services (2015)


EP resolution on digital single market

Under procedure 2015/2147(INI), we take note of the European Parliament resolution P8_TA(2016)0009 of 19 January 2016 on Towards a Digital Single Market Act, with the dedicated section 4.2. Boosting competitiveness through interoperability and standardisation (paragraphs 109-112), inter alia:

109. Considers that the European ICT standardisation plan and revision of the interoperability framework, including the Commission’s mandates to European standardisation organisations, should be part of a European digital strategy to create economies of scale, budget savings and improved competitiveness for European companies, and to increase cross-sectoral and cross-border interoperability of goods and services through the faster definition, in an open and competitive way, of voluntary, market-driven and global standards that are easily implemented by SMEs; encourages the Commission to ensure that standardisation processes include all relevant stakeholders, attract the best technologies and avoid the risk of creating monopolies or closed value chains, especially for SMEs and start-ups, and to actively promote European standards internationally in light of the global nature of ICT standardisation initiatives;

110. Urges the Commission and the Council to increase the share of free and open source software and its reuse in and between public administrations as a solution to increase interoperability;


Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation

The Commission web page ICT standardisation offers us an overview, as well as link to the page 2017 Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation released. You can download  the executive summary or the full plan.  


Ralf Grahn

Friday, 21 April 2017

European standardisation package

In the context of the EU’s single market strategy (link to a compilation of blog posts), I turned to European standardisation this week with a few entries on my Finnish and Swedish blogs:
Eurooppaoikeus (FI): Sisämarkkinastrategian eurooppalaiset standardit (19 April 2017)

Eurooppaoikeus (FI): EFTA ja Euroopan talousalue: eurooppalaiset standardit (19 April 2017)
Grahnblawg (SV): EU:s standardiseringspaket (20 April 2017)

Grahnblawg (SV): Europeiska tjänstestandarder (20 April 2017)

Next a basic presentation of European standardisation in English as part of the single market strategy.

Single market strategy

European standardisation is part of the Commission’s internal market (single market) strategy:

Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business; Brussels, 28.10.2015 COM(2015) 550 final

Section 3.1. of the communication was called Modernising our standards system (p. 12), which boiled down to two concrete actions (p. 21):

  • Joint initiative on Standardisation (2016)
  • Dedicated guidance on service standardisation (2016)


Standardisation package

Last year the European Commission presented its standardisation package, with an over all vision presented in the communication:

European standards for the 21st century; Brussels, 1.6.2016 COM(2016) 358 final

The other parts of the standardisation package were summarised on the pages 10-11:

Together with the April ICT Standards Communication and with the Joint Initiative, today's standardisation package lays down a coherent Commission vision on the role of standardisation in support of policy making. It is made up of the following documents:

1. The Annual Union Work Programme for European Standardisation 2017: identifying strategic priorities and objectives for European standardisation, taking into account the EU’s long-term strategies for jobs and growth such as the action plan on circular economy, and indicating the European standards and European standardisation deliverables that the Commission intends to request from the European standardisation organisations in 2017.

2. The “Article 24 Report” and REFIT Document setting out evidence on the functioning of the ESS and supporting the policy developments under the JIS.

3. Service Standards Staff Working Document: "Tapping the potential of European service standards to help Europe's consumers and businesses".

The aim of this blog post is just to document the parts in a more exact manner, for the convenience of readers.


ICT standardisation

A little earlier the Commission had published a communication on standardisation regarding information and communication technology (ICT) related to the digital single market:
ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market; Brussels, 19.4.2016 COM(2016) 176 final  


Joint initiative on Standardisation

The Joint initiative on Standardisation (JIS), which was discussed on pages 5-8 of the vision communication COM(2016) 358, was signed on 13 June 2016, and the text can be downloaded here: C(2016) 3211 final - Annex  "Joint Initiative on Standardisation under the Single Market Strategy" to the Commission Decision on the approval and the signing of the Joint Initiative on Standardisation.


Annual Union Work Programme 2017

The Annual Union Work Programme for European Standardisation 2017 was published as a communication:
The annual Union work programme for European standardisation for 2017; Brussels, 1.6.2016 COM(2016) 357 final

The communication was accompanied by a staff working document:

Commission staff working document on the implementation of the actions foreseen in the 2016 Union work programme for European standardisation, including the implementing acts and mandates sent to the European standardisation organisations; Brussels, 1.6.2016 SWD(2016) 185 final


“Article 24 Report” and REFIT Document

The first document is the so called Article 24 report from the Commission:

Report on the implementation of the Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 from 2013 to 2015; Brussels, 1.6.2016 COM(2016) 212 final

The so called REFIT document was officially the accompanying Commission staff working document:

Analysis of the implementation of the Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 from 2013 to 2015 and factsheets; Brussels, 1.6.2016 SWD(2016) 126 final  


Service standards SWD

Service standards were discussed on the pages 9-10 of the vision communication COM(2016) 358, but the guidance came in the accompanying Commission staff working document:
Tapping the potential of European service standards to help Europe's consumers and businesses; Brussels, 1.6.2016 SWD(2016) 186 final


Standardisation regulation

Almost every document refers to the fairly new Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 on European standardisation, applied from 1 January 2013. Let us glance at the scope:

Article 1
Subject matter

This Regulation establishes rules with regard to the cooperation between European standardisation organisations, national standardisation bodies, Member States and the Commission, the establishment of European standards and European standardisation deliverables for products and for services in support of Union legislation and policies, the identification of ICT technical specifications eligible for referencing, the financing of European standardisation and stakeholder participation in European standardisation.


StandarDays

Yesterday and today (20-21 April 2017) the StandarDays event in Brussels, hosted by CEN and CENELEC, has gathered experts from national and European standardisation organisations, EU institutions and enterprises for updated information on European standards.

You can follow the event under the Twitter hashtag #StandarDays


Ralf Grahn