President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Today, we are once again addressing a topic common to our meetings: that of technical regulations. I specifically wanted to devote one of the Commission’s meetings to this issue.
You know how important this topic is to the modernisation of our economy. After all, our technical regulations and standards are key instruments that ensure competitiveness and innovative appeal of our economy. We have discussed this issue many, many times and I had to give some rather harsh instructions which — as is often the case in our country — ultimately yielded certain results.
I am referring to the legislation on technical regulations. Unfortunately, the law that was passed at the beginning of this decade, the one that has been in force, proved to be absolutely ineffective and we had to urgently amend it to meet the requirements of today.
That has been done and I have signed such amendments into law. I hope that now the amended law will allow all of our colleagues present – first and foremost, Cabinet members, the Ministry of Industry and Trade headed by Mr Khristenko, and the corresponding agency [Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology] – to make relevant decisions ensuring their proper quality, quantity and swiftness. This is, perhaps, most important.
First, I am hereby instructing the Cabinet to intensify efforts in this area and I would like for them to report back to me on what has been done and the number of documents passed. I would like the report fairly soon – let’s say, in two months.
The second issue on which we need a decision is the overall quantity of technical regulations. The numbers are increasing constantly – we already discussed this today with our colleagues. Initially, some 40 to 50 regulations were mentioned, then another higher figure appeared, and finally I was told that altogether about 400 technical regulations are required. Let’s determine exactly how many of these regulations we really need. I understand that to the people developing such regulations, this is their business and operation, but for the other business entities these regulations determine their ability to succeed. That is why I would like to see a report on how many technical regulations we actually need to finalise the entire regulation process.
We shouldn’t get caught up in details as, after all, technical regulations may be offered for any operation or item whatsoever. Instead, integrated regulations should be drafted and approved by the Ministry [of Industry and Trade] and the corresponding Agency [for Technical Regulation and Metrology], just as we had agreed. This is highly important.
Third, we must adhere to the same principles being followed today by other countries. We cannot refute the experience accumulated by developed economies in recent decades. As far back as 1985, the European Union implemented the so-called New Approach principles. And since the beginning of this decade, there have been national standardisation strategies introduced in the United States, UK, Germany, and France. We in Russia spent all of those years apart from these international trends, living on some kind of isolated island and never letting anyone near us.
We need to analyse the applicability of such standards for us, especially since this was outlined in the Presidential Address [to the Federal Assembly] and in the law amending the current legislation on technical regulations.
Business community is genuinely concerned with these processes as its members are involved in manufacturing and selling high-tech products and competing on their markets. Thus, I believe that our responsible business community should participate in developing the corresponding national standards. This is absolutely vital.
Businesses’ expenditures for this work in standardisation could well be classified as goods and services production costs. We should consider such an option and pass respective financial statutes. After all, standardisation should lower costs, which is a direct benefit to our businesses.
Another topic that came up today while we were visiting the [Novolipetsk Steel] smelter was that we should not just address technical regulations, but safety regulations as well. We have begun improving technical regulations due to circumstantial pressures and as a result of impetus from the very top authorities. Meanwhile, safety standards including industrial production and labour safety standards are another major topic that has not been seriously addressed, where, as far as I understand, no detailed regulations are available, and where current regulations are fragmented and contradictory with no basic document for consolidating various norms in existence.
This must be addressed, just the same as we are doing now with technical regulations. Some government agency should be put in charge of supervising the process. I am not sure whether this should be the Ministry of Industry and Trade or some other body. I think it is the Cabinet who will decide on the agency in charge. Such agency will then review all respective regulations approved in recent years. When I discussed the matter with some colleagues today, we concluded that in improving technical regulations we at least have a clear understanding of the mechanism to be employed, while it is entirely unclear how we can move forward in regard to safety.
We shouldn’t have such a discrepancy; these are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, if we improve technical regulations but are unable to advance with safety standards, then we will continue to be stymied in developing our economy and building specific industries and businesses.
Many of our companies are now developing their own corporate technical criteria. This is normal practice and should be welcomed. Naturally, it cannot be used for unlawful or monopolistic purposes. Here, I also suppose that we should appeal to businesses, their responsible behaviour and effective self-organisation. Possibly, some appropriate public organisations may be set to independently address and monitor these matters.
It should not be forgotten that failure to comply with technical regulations and misleading declaration of products’ conformity to the rules are unlawful.
Another problem we face is that under the current system of technical regulation, standards are developed by technical committees. Still, it is imperative to have other participants involved in this process. Participation should not be limited to businesses and manufacturers; consumers should be engaged as well. After all, both sides’ interests should be taken into account when registering the standards, and we should not upset this balance.
The next topic we must address is the need to bring about order in accreditation. The lack of unified rules for the accreditation process itself, as well as the absence of unified requirements in regard to the quality and safety of products, impede the formation of a free market for certification services and hinder the growth of competition.
Today, most certification centres are largely fictitious offices – they have service contracts with laboratories that either do not exist or whose technological capacities are decades old and have not been renovated since the USSR. Often, accreditation and supervision are performed by the same people, sitting in the same office, which is simply a breach of law.
Finally, as part of this trend of development for the near future, I also want to point out the need to harmonise legislations, norms, and regulations within the Customs Union and Common Economic Space. We must also take action to effectively support the export of Russian products.
Overall, although we have had to apply special efforts to this issue, I am grateful to everyone present here, those who have participated in the process, and those who swiftly drafted and approved amendments to the law in the Federal Assembly. But now, we have a new task. We need to begin implementing the simplified procedures in accordance with this law, rapidly preparing the necessary number of regulations, and bringing order to the corresponding legislation on safety standards.