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Exploiting the potential of Nordic internationalisation of services

  • Publisert 15.01.2009
  • Sist oppdatert 12.03.2011
A feasibility study examining the possibilities for Nordic service standardisation initiatives.

The service sector is of increasing importance to the European and Nordic economies. However, the availability of standards within the service sector is very poor put in regard to the economic importance and potential of this area.


Standards are important to society since they bring with them both economic and more general benefits, such as quality, environment, and safety. The economic benefits of standards pass through various channels, all of which enhance the level of competition, innovation, and efficiency within the public and private sectors. The use of standards has steadily increased, however most of them are related to tangible products, whereas only a small fraction is related to the service sector.


The Services Directive was adopted in 2006 in order to achieve a genuine Internal Market in services by removing legal and administrative barriers to the development of service sector activities between member states. The directive notes how increased standardisation can bring about positive effects to the Internal Market for services, and the European Commission encourages inter alia member states and key stakeholders to initiate European service sector standardisation processes.


The Nordic countries should become involved in the development of European and international service standards so that they can contribute to the improvement of the Internal Market for services. Previously, Nordic cooperation has proved to be of great value in influencing and contributing to European standardisation of the tangible goods sectors. The Nordic countries have been frontrunners in the field of standardisation, most notably in the environmental and construction sectors.


The diversity and size of the service sector makes it impossible to participate fully at international level in all cases and subsectors. For this reason, the Nordic countries should prioritise their involvement in international standardisation work based on considerations of relevance, economic interests, existing international and national standards and industry needs.


Against this background, the Nordic Innovation Centre has commissioned a feasibility study with the aim of selecting and defining those service sectors where standardisation can contribute to economic growth and internationalisation of Nordic service provision. This study and report has been prepared by Oxford Research A/S, and forms a part of the project “Nordic platforms for better trade in services” by Nordic Innovation Centre.


The study examines standardisation initiatives related to both 1) the potential of launching European or international service sector standardisation projects or the potential to influence and contribute to the development of ongoing European or international service sector standardisation, and 2) the potential of developing Nordic service sector standards in areas where there is currently no ongoing or planned European or international work in progress regarding service sector standardisation.