Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Pierre Sauvé and Martin Roy
Chapter 11: Standard-setting in services: New frontiers in rule-making and the role of the EU
Due to legislative and judicial developments, standard-setting has come to the forefront of public policy debates. Long considered as a ‘no go area’ for everyone but engineers and technical experts, standard-setting organizations (SSOs) have produced a growing and solid body of standards that affect and facilitate our everyday life, from wireless communications to household appliances. However, SSOs also draw the attention of many because of allegations about exclusion, undue increase of rivals’ costs, strategic behavior, or unnecessary trade barriers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that standard-setting procedures may not always be aligned to contemporary demands for due process. If standardization in goods is vague, standard-setting in services is uncharted territory. This comes as no surprise; due to their tailor-made nature, services are harder to standardize. However, interest in this area is growing and the European Union (EU) has paved the way. In the controversial EU Services Directive, and, more recently, in the Single Market Act, the European Commission is called upon to lead the development of voluntary European standards to facilitate compatibility among services, whereas Regulation 1025/2012 provides the legal basis for a new era in service standard-setting in the EU. Based on these developments, this chapter maps this new and promising area of rule-making in services. Standard-setting procedures and institutions will be analyzed with a view to identifying how successful this new endeavor can be in promoting trade in services. The chapter revisits the groundwork already laid in certain service sectors, putting an emphasis on financial and business (including professional) services.
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