DIGITAL SME signs a liaison agreement with CEN-CENELEC’s JTC21 on Artificial Intelligence

  • The European DIGITAL SME Alliance has signed a liaison agreement with CEN-CENELEC’s Joint Technical Committee 21 (JTC21)

  • As the collective voice of small and medium enterprises in the ICT sector, it will follow and participate in ongoing work around the standardisation request on the upcoming Artificial Intelligence Act

  • DIGITAL SME calls on its members to bring forward any points of interest or contention that may be relayed in the framework of these discussions

The European DIGITAL SME Alliance has signed a liaison agreement with CEN-CENELEC’s Joint Technical Committee 21 (JTC21). Tasked to oversee the development of standards for artificial intelligence (AI), this group has notably been recently mandated to deliver on the European Commission’s standardisation request derived from the upcoming Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act).

While the Artificial Intelligence Act is still under negotiation, it is crucial to initiate the work on European standards supporting key technical areas covered by the AI Act proposal in order to advance technical harmonisation in the field of artificial intelligence and prepare European industry for its requirements. For these reasons, DIGITAL SME submitted a successful application as liaison organisation to CEN-CENELEC’s JTC21. Key standards need to be developed thoughtfully – whether related to design specifications, risk management systems, human oversight of AI systems, or conformity assessment.

CEN-CENELEC’s JTC21 is tasked to deliver the new European standards by 30 April 2025. It will report back to the European Commission every six months, indicating the progress made.

As indicated in Article 3(5)(a) of the official standardisation request, this process should be mindful of small and medium enterprises’ inclusion at each stage of development. By participating in the work of the committee as a liaison organisation, DIGITAL SME will be able to provide input and expertise to ongoing discussions. It will participate in meetings, as well as have full access to the working documents of the group. While it does not entail voting rights, the status of liaison organisation still enables the possibility to propose technical documents with a view of their possible conversion into CEN or CENELEC deliverables. DIGITAL SME will also be able to introduce preparatory work as a support to ongoing standardisation activities.

The European DIGITAL SME Alliance is looking forward to following these pressing issues, of cornerstone relevance to advancing European digital acquis. It will follow up on its conception of the necessary SME-friendly requirements to be upheld in the AI Act, which was already put forward in a position paper in 2021, and in an open letter to the European Parliament in 2022. It invites all members to bring forward identified themes or points of contention which could be further raised in that framework.

It is paramount that the AI Act – and the subconsequent standards underpinning it – strengthens innovation and supports the digital frontrunners that are the SMEs and start-ups developing and providing AI solutions. Through its participation in these discussions at CEN-CENELEC’s JTC21, the European DIGITAL SME Alliance can work towards avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach in artificial intelligence standardisation.