Wednesday, 16 November 2011

On re-reading the Monti Report

It's more than a year ago since I read the so called Monti Report, the report on "A new strategy for the single market at the service of Europe's economy and society, delivered in May 2010 to the European Commission by Professor Mario Monti who was a former EU Commissioner is now the new Italian Prime Minister. With Mr Monti starting in his new role I grabbed out the report again and gave it a re-reading last night.

To begin with, it is an excellent and very inspiring document. Worth reading - it is available on President Barroso's web site. From my standards perspective the report provides a number of interesting points on the benefits of standards and on the contribution standards and standardisation makes to growth and innovation in Europe. And - especially in the section on the digital single market - it takes a good and forward looking approach on ICT and the way it transforms societies and markets.

Let me just give you two appetizers - starting with a passage on digital technologies:
"2.3. Shaping Europe's digital single market
"Digital technologies are radically transforming the way we live, work and interact. The propagation of digital technology is a spontaneous process of innovation and transformation. Yet, regulatory and social conditions influence the speed and extent of the uptake of new technologies and the spread of the benefits of a digital economy. Europe is moving at a slower speed than the US. A number of obstacles reduce the capacity of industry in Europe to innovate and generate value added in the digital sphere: the fragmentation of online markets, ill-adapted intellectual property legislation, the lack of trust and interoperability, the lack of high-speed transmission infrastructure and the lack of digital skills. Many of these obstacles point to a simple cause: a lack of a Digital single market." (p. 44)
And specifically on standardisation:
"Reforming the standardisation process
"Standardisation is key for the governance of the single market. Europe needs today faster and more efficient setting of interoperable and market-relevant standards, based on internationally accepted models. It is necessary to review the European standards process, maintaining the benefits of the current system while striking the right balance between European and national dimension. Special attention should be paid to enhancing private sector access to the standardisation process and to making standards cheaper and easier to use for SMEs." (p. 50f.)
Many - if not all - of the points raised by Professor Monti have been taken up by the Commission, most notably in the various flagship initiatives. And the legal package on standardisation also nicely fits into this with a proposed Regulation that preserves the successful structures of European standardisation and complements them with necessary changes, e.g. in the filed of ICT, in order to promote competitiveness, innovation and growth in Europe.

Regarding the reform of ICT standardisation the Commission also very much worked according to what Professor Monti calles "smart regulation", i.e. with broad stakeholder involvement and consultations:
"For a smart regulation, policy making methods are equally important as legal techniques. Smart regulation means regulation informed by an accurate  knowledge of the factors at play and by a sharp awareness of its potential impacts on the economy, the social context and the environment. The commitment to better regulation should continue. Impact assessment and stakeholders' consultation have proven their advantages in terms of quality of regulation, transparency and accountability. They are key features for reforming effectively the single market." (p. 94)
I recommend to everyone to read or re-read this report. Happy that it got back into my perspective with Professor Monti taking on his new role in Italy.

No comments: