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Latest reports:
December 2019

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Current news highlights covered in our analytical reports:

  • Which standards can be used in international trade? conflicting signals from EU
  • Free Trade Agreements:  EU - Singapore FTA enters into force
  • Chemicals – REACH: process for authorising high-risk substances to be reviewed, following publication of evidence of large-scale non-compliance 
  • Chemicals - REACH: updates to mandatory safety test rules for substances
  • Energy efficiency: 1) new regulation for automotive tyres imminent
  • Energy efficiency: 2) a Master Plan for energy-intensive industries 
  • Energy efficiency: 3) 10 new eco-design texts for electrical products with strengthened requirements for minimum energy efficiency
  • Consumer rights: revision of core regulation imminent, to accommodate e-commerce
  • Product safety: updated list of standards recognised under the Product Safety Directive
  • ISO quality management system standards: updated standard for use by auditors
  • Electrical products and motors: new exemptions from ROHS for phthalates and lead
  • Low-voltage electrical safety: wide-ranging update to recognised standards
  • Toys: new limit values for aluminium, formaldehyde, other chemicals
  • Railways: standards bodies to receive power to recognise validity of their standards under EU regulations
  • Cosmetics: 1) EU to consider new labelling rules to indicate presence of allergens
  • Cosmetics: 2) first official inventory published of nanomaterials used in cosmetics
  • Cosmetics: 3) routine updates to lists of substances authorised or restricted
  • Automotive vehicles: updates to regulation of 1) cab design of lorries / trucks, and 2) emissions
  • Cableways: update to recognised standards
  • Foods: EU formally joins Lisbon Agreement of World Intellectual Property Organisation
  • Plastics recycling: new private-public agreement on radical increase in use of recycled plastics in newly manufactured products

About us – how we got to where we are

Single Market Ventures is a private company, founded in 1988, located in Brussels, and independent of any manufacturing, distribution, testing, certification, government or other organisation. We have consistently maintained an independent stance.

We began with a concentration on efforts to eliminate what are called technical barriers to trade (TBT) inside Europe. Those efforts were one of the major strategic themes during Europe’s most important phase of its regional trade integration. Through the European Single Market, the notion of cross-border one-stop approval (one product, one test, accepted everywhere) became a reality for the first time in the world, even if only within one region. And the total European market was so large that the whole world was interested in its implications. We began by providing information and advice on those European technical harmonisation programmes, to clients inside and outside Europe. The programmes have never ended: as each new field of business develops, new challenges arise to create barrier-free markets.

While we still cover those programmes in the EU, we have also broadened our activity over time, in three directions – geographical scope, content, and strategic breadth:

  • Geographical scope: our work has spread beyond Europe, and we now examine the implications of global harmonisation programmes, not just European. The World Trade Organisation took over many of the European principles of one-stop approval in its Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement of 1995. Other regions of the world, such as APEC or ASEAN, have made varying degrees of progress towards regional integration. International standards programmes have steadily risen in importance, often driven by the private sector, while governments have moved to broader harmonisation of policies in fields such as energy efficiency and medical devices.

  • Content: as the fields covered by harmonisation of this kind have expanded, our coverage has followed. When our company started, nanotechnology as a defined field was brand new, wireless communication was almost entirely limited to conventional broadcasting services and walkie-talkies, Internet harmonisation had barely begun (the first meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force was in 1986), cross-border harmonisation of standards for services had not begun at all, and renewable energies were regarded with scepticism. Today, all those fields are bubbling with activity and programmes for harmonisation.

  • Strategy: we work increasingly on broader, strategic issues for organisations seeking practical, operational responses to the developments on which we report. For example, what concrete opportunities emerge for which players from the ambitious plans for growth in renewable energies, and are new ventures, structures, or partnerships needed? How can a developing country attract new investment in that field? How should companies with major global sourcing operations obtain factual information on issues covered in Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, and who can provide that information to them? In all of those fields, significant harmonisation programmes are under way which offer opportunities for cross-border efficiencies and development. We help our clients identify and exploit those.

Our clients have so far come from around 30 countries, and from both government and the private sector. The founder of the company, for example, has for many years and on many projects acted as an independent advisor to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) on the role of harmonisation of this kind in trade liberalisation, and we have worked for a number of national governments. We have worked for major multinational manufacturing and certification organisations, as well as much smaller companies.


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