HC Deb 11 May 1995 vol 259 cc542-3W
Mr. Amess

To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to publish the results of his Department's study on standards, testing and certification barriers in the non-harmonised areas of the single market. [24172]

Mr. Ian Taylor

The generic study on standards, testing and certification barriers in non-harmonised areas of the single market is one of a number of studies which arose from my Department's single market compliance unit business plan. Two hundred and fifty businesses and around 100 trade associations were asked whether they had experienced problems in this area and the results of the survey were analysed to discover the nature of the problems and how they would best be tackled.

Our investigations show that many companies are successfully exporting to other member states, but they confirm that problems are faced by some companies and suggest that these problems may be more significant in certain sectors. Specific problems in exporting to six member states were identified and as might be expected from the size of their markets Germany, in particular, and France specified much more often than other member states, although the numbers of problems identified were still low in absolute terms. Analysis of the problems identified supports the twin approach to resolving conflicts—bilaterally and through direct approaches to the European Commission—as indeed is my Department's usual practice. There is also a need to encourage industry to utilise the benefits of possible agreements under the auspices of the European Organisation for Testing and Certification and to stimulate the work of the European Co-operation for Accreditation of Laboratories and European Accreditation of Certification.

Our investigations have confirmed that there are gaps in mutual recognition which are detracting from the benefits of the single market. I have, therefore, written to the European Commission with the results of the study and I will be raising the study with fellow European Ministers in the Internal Market Council.

My Department's single market compliance unit will try to resolve, with firms, specific problems identified by the study and my Department's standards policy unit will help to publicise the ways in which mutual recognition may be achieved.

I have placed in the Library of the House a copy of the report of the study which has been issued.