About us – how we got to where we
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.