1998-09-29

Global Harmonization - A European Perspective 982267

Motor vehicle safety regulations in industrialized countries were originally developed without a focus on harmonization between countries, except in regions with close economic ties. These economic ties are now becoming increasingly important in the expanding global economy. As countries emerge economically, their populations demand more mobility, and as automobile manufacturing and sales become more global, harmonizing standards to remove trade barriers and to lower costs to consumers becomes even more important. Globally, regulatory activity is slowly increasing to harmonize existing and future standards in recognition of the almost universal acknowledgment of the importance of harmonization. The concept of functional equivalence of standards may provide all manufacturers the opportunity the meet their home country's safety standards as well as the mutual recognition of the safety standards of another country. Furthermore, harmonizing research programs could lead to an overlap of performance requirements so that any manufacturer could meet all standards with a single design. Alliances have been formed to promote harmonization and to establish a forum and a process to achieve harmonization. These alliances must be continued and strengthened to convince governments to make harmonization a policy and a priority. Harmonization must be pursued to avoid higher costs for consumers with no benefits, and burdens for automakers.

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