Assessment of the Costs and
Benefits arising from Government and Water Industry Participation in
the Development of European Standards
Defra (DWI) commissioned this study to examine the effectiveness and
benefits of participation in the European standards process
The study included a survey of Water UK standards representatives and
six in-depth case studies.
- Assess whether water
industry representation is achieving value for money;
- Consider if the current level of effort and resource use
is appropriate; and
- Review how the effectiveness of UK participation might
The survey was based on telephone interviews with 20 Water UK standards
representatives (i.e. 50% of the sample frame of representatives active
in the last 5 years). It covered all champion areas and included
representatives working at European technical committee level and those
involved in the UK process.
The survey highlighted the importance of involvement in the drafting
stages of standard development. This is seen as the most effective
means of ensuring UK interests are incorporated in the draft standard.
However, other stages such as public enquiry and final vote were
considered important either to maintain the UK position or if the UK
had not been involved in drafting the standard to try to effect a later
Representatives generally reported that their activities had achieved
the outcome desired. However, this may have been influenced by the
interviewee’s selection of a standard preferred, or better
remembered, due to its positive outcome.
The main factors identified as leading to poor standard outcomes, where
these were not fully achieved, were dominance by a specific country or
sector interest, poor
country presence with too few representatives and poor CEN meeting
Six case studies were selected across a range of topic areas, three
representing good outcomes and three representing poor outcomes.
Although each case study impacted on the water industry, not all had
been the subject of water industry representation.
The case studies illustrated a huge variation in the benefit cost ratio
or potential benefit cost ratio (in the cases of those without
representation). The minimum (potential) return gave a benefit to cost
ratio of £1.27 / £1 expended. These are
conservative estimates based on ex post outcomes as opposed to less
certain ex ante analysis which could, by identifying more potential
risks, overestimatethe potential benefits.
The case studies and in-depth discussions clearly illustrated that the
key to a successful outcome related to very early involvement and
taking ownership and leadership in the development of the draft,
ideally having a suitable UK standard to offer up. This is likely to
become even more important in view of the recently expanded EU
The effectiveness of representation was reduced by limited time input
and in particular by other more dominant interests either in terms of
numbers of participants from a particular country or countries, or
across areas by sector.
It is estimated that approximately £355,000 per annum is
expended on Standards Group work by Water UK and the water companies.
This does not include other company initiatives undertaken outside of
the Group. The work programme of water-related BSi committees and sub
committees covers 1986 standards over a 5 year cycle. These include new
standards in development, revisions of existing standards and review of
Many representatives believe that there is a need for additional
resourcing. This is backed up by a simplified resourcing model which
suggests that there may be a shortfall of the order of 62
representative days per year.
Of the 27 principal BSi water-related committees, 25% do not have a
Water UK contact assigned. In some cases, the contact is only a named
person to receive meeting minutes who does not attend meetings. It has
been suggested that the minutes record the outcomes and decisions of
the meeting but do not capture the issues and their subtleties and
sensitivities, crucial to the decision on further levels of
representation. The cost of representation on a committee is
approximately £1000 to £2800/year (2 days x cost of
water company representative or consultant) but could potentially
improve the ability to “horizon scan” for the water
Based on the survey and case studies, opportunities to maintain and
improve the representation process include:
It is important to increase the interest in representation and
recruitment of representatives to maintain and develop the resources
needed as a number of representatives are approaching retirement. If
this does not occur there is a significant threat to the long term
viability of the group and the effectiveness of its work.
- Improved resources, both
financial and in terms of company staff involvement, to ensure water
industry representation at key meetings and a positive balance of
interests in committee decision processes;
- Succession planning to make
members fully effective at an early stage: improved briefing, handover
and uptake of training for representatives;
- Dedicated and experienced
secretariat support to the mirror group;
- Use of simple business cases
to assist prioritisation of resource use on the basis of risk and value
- Raise the profile of
standards work and company interest by using a newsletter, or similar,
including information on standards work activity levels and the
outcomes and implications of the work.
- Develop and maintain simple
records of key performance measures (meetings attended, standards
defended, success of outcomes, total standards being developed, total
representatives etc.) to identify activity levels and resource
requirements in order to allow effective monitoring and management of
the representation process.
- Consider development of
alliances with other water user groups at the European level.
To develop the work of the standards group, raise its profile and
strengthen its longer term
sustainability requires additional funding and resources specifically
dedicated to performance
measurement and publicising the work of the group and making and
raising the profile of standards work. DTI funding possibilities could
Copies of this report may be available as an Acrobat pdf download under the 'Post 2000 Reports' heading on the DWI website.