The President of the Jacques Delors Institute and former Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, published in April a report on behalf of the leaders of European Union countries, discussing how to adjust the EU’s Single Market so that it lives up to the challenges that we are facing today in terms of movement of people, services and capital. The Much more than a market – Speed, Security, Solidarity report discusses particularly how to integrate the pursuit of sustainability and innovation within the rules governing the Single Market. 

It is positive that the report refers to sound conformity assessment and standardisation as means to achieve a healthy Single Market. The importance of standards is highlighted and the report makes few references to the need to develop the relevant certification schemes in order to fully implement new policies, such as on clean energy. This also illustrates how quality infrastructure will be supporting all types of policies, and that its role is no longer limited to product safety.  

Equally, we applaud how the report brings up today’s information gap between consumers and manufacturers in terms of product sustainability. Consumers require such information. We saw similar results in a survey that we commissioned asking consumers in Germany and Brazil about their perceptions over the efforts of sustainability by policymakers and companies. 

This is why TIC Council insists on developing legislation on green claims of products that would be based on confirming all labels and claims by third parties and according to meaningful certification schemes. 

Nevertheless, we consider that the report falls short of discussing a crucial problem of the Single Market. That is the ability of the testing, inspection and certification industry to offer services throughout the European Union. Without this possibility, the TIC industry cannot play their key role in ensuring the safety of products that are placed on the Single Market or to assist companies with new regulatory obligations.  

To this end, we recommend moving up the revision of Regulation 765/2008 to 2025 (instead of the planned 2028 date). During this revision, we consider it necessary to address the inconsistent application of accreditation rules throughout the EU.  

Equally, we recommend minimising the delays that accreditation bodies have taken in various member states to provide accreditation for upcoming digital and ESG regulations. These delays are already harming the competitiveness of all European industries, who seek the consultancy and certification services of the TIC industry to guide innovation and ensure continued compliance with new regulations.  

Finally, we deplore that this report refers to “self-certification”, which is contradictory in terms. Certification always requires the involvement of a third party in conducting the conformity assessment. Otherwise, one can refer to self-declaration of conformity by the manufacturer.  

A robust quality infrastructure ecosystem, with conformity assessment, accreditation and standardisation working hand in hand is a crucial cog in the machinery of the EU’s Single Market, as well as for every market worldwide. Therefore, markets may not respond to the challenges of today until policymakers ensure that this ecosystem adapts to deliver on their ambitions.