ETSI: together towards a brilliant future!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of DIGITAL SME nor constitute the endorsement of the candidate.

DIGITAL SME encourages an open debate around the election of the future Director General of ETSI. Other views and contributions are welcomed and can be shared at

By Luis Romero, standing ETSI Director General and candidate to his re-appointment

* ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) is one of the three recognised European Standardisation Organisations. Its present Director General’s term of office will expire in June 2024, and in this context new candidates are being sought. The ETSI General Assembly will make the formal appointment on 16th April 2024. This third-party op-ed is hosted by the European DIGITAL SME Alliance towards the promotion of an open and democratic electoral process.

Leading ETSI

After a long and recognized management experience in the telecoms sector in several countries, and especially promoting and contributing to standardization, I have had the honour of leading ETSI for the last (almost) 13 years. Over this time, ETSI has experienced a considerable growth in many fields, permanently adapting our resources to the needs arising: +250 new members, +20 new technical groups, 4 new software development groups (encompassing open source), increased presence in the media, increased the number of events organized, etc. This is the result of having been able to put together an excellent team and having managed to earn their trust and fully integrate. All together we have helped make ETSI climb to the heights where it now sits. Our present and future is lying on the facts and reality of today.

ETSI: made in Europe for global use 

Digital transformation and its impact on industries, markets, administrations and societies are long-standing issues for the EU, EFTA and national governments. At the European level, this has led to a wide range of comprehensive policy initiatives, aiming at keeping Europe at the forefront of the digital era. ETSI produces robust, high quality technical standards and other deliverables that are instrumental in supporting European regulatory and policy needs and will continue this trend in support of the EU Single Market.

At the same time, ETSI’s work embraces the production of globally applicable standards that are crucial to the market success of thousands of technologies, products and services. The high quality of our work and the open and consensus-based approach to standardization has seen ETSI’s reach extend from its European roots to the entire world, be it on our own, throughout our long-lasting Partnerships or engaged in EU sponsored international projects. Furthermore, ETSI’s endeavours to test and guaranty interoperability make us unique. In this vein, ETSI acts and ambitions to keep acting as a very powerful exports machine for Europe. Both for its technology and its values.

ETSI, inclusive

ETSI is an association composed of a very broad variety (both in size, origins, objectives and interests) of members, who decide collectively the direction the Institute has to navigate towards. All members receive an equitable treatment in ETSI, where the value is placed on the quality of their contributions. This is a cornerstone of ETSI’s success that we shall privilege and continue to enhance.

Standards enable SMEs to be innovators and developers of new technologies hand in hand with the big players. In support of SMEs, ETSI already offers access for free to its standards, facilitates direct participation and remote access to meetings, asks lower fees from SMEs and has increased their relative weight in ETSI’s governance. More than 25% of ETSI members are SMEs and, furthermore, these hold more than 40% of relevant positions in technical groups (Chairs, Vice Chairs, and Rapporteurs). We will keep on listening and working to motivate SMEs engagement in ETSI. This includes the several educational programmes developed to make standardization accessible to the layman, train the younger generations, and accompany our members through their ETSI experience.

Turning challenges into opportunities

The stress on regional or national sovereignty makes up a strong and solid basis for global action, making international relations more difficult. Global cooperation and coordination may be impacted. ICT standardization needs to maintain its role as a neutral player, serving regional and local interests and needs to ensure global trade and market success. ETSI must remain a place where participants from all over the world are welcome to contribute on a peer basis in order to foster global and local economies and be ready for the future.

Furthermore, ETSI operates in a very fast changing industry, and so its methods and strategy must be fit to this challenge. The digital world shapes our future and ETSI is a relevant player in this area, ensuring the standards that enable interconnected, secure and sustainable solutions. In this context, there is a sharpened focus on the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in managing tomorrow’s network and systems, alongside the practical challenges – not least security – that widescale deployment of AI will bring. There is also a continuous focus on cybersecurity, addressing areas like the security of networks, the IoT, middleboxes, identity-based encryption and quantum safe cryptography. And we’ll keep developing our work on distributed ledger technologies and quantum key distribution – critical enablers for the security and integrity of tomorrow’s ICT networks and services such as banking, digital contracts and maintaining the confidentiality of personal data.

ETSI, in the path to an even brighter future

ETSI’s work is by definition focused on the future. It is thus no surprise that our own working methods, IT tools and applications are constantly evolving to embrace new industry trends and opportunities. In this respect, enabling groups in ETSI to develop software in support of standardization – including open source software development – is a big step forward to enhance the quality and timeliness of our deliverables.

ETSI will keep engaging with R&D and academic communities to enhance our ability to create world-class ICT standards that are at the forefront of the technology, serving the interests of members and end-users alike. Through ETSI’s Industry Specification Groups, we’ll continue providing a fertile environment for pre-standardization work to flourish. Amongst others, these will nurture the work in 3GPP towards 6G by imagining the shape of potential building blocks for tomorrow’s broadband systems, including work on integrated sensing and communication, non-terrestrial networks, virtualization, automation, cloud and computing at the edge.

All of this without forgetting that our work also involves making products and services which are simpler to use, safer and more efficient. ETSI is committed to identifying sustainable solutions which are sensitive to ICT’s impact on individuals, society and our planet.



Luis Romero has been Director General for ETSI since 2011. He has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications sector, with previous high management positions in Spain, Morocco, and Mexico for Telefónica.