CE RFID Holds Its First Meeting

By Rhea Wessel

Formed by Metro Group, Deutsche Post World Net, UPM Raflatac and other key European players in RFID, the organization met to develop recommendations on RFID standards and regulations for the European Commission.

A new group formed to shape European RFID policy has finished its first in a series of three industry workshops. These workshops have been conceived in an effort to promote competition in the sector, and to develop recommendations on RFID for the European Commission (EC).

The association, known as Coordinating European Efforts for Promoting the European RFID Value Chain (CE RFID), is made up of RFID users, vendors and technology providers. These include Metro Group, Deutsche Post World Net, NXP (formerly Philips Semiconductors) and RFID hardware makers Feig Electronic and UPM Raflatac. The first meeting was held on Sept. 20 in Weilburg, Germany, to discuss RFID radio regulations.

Peter Gabriel

"The workshop went very well," says Peter Gabriel, who works in the secretariat of CE RFID. "It was attended by the members of CE RFID, AIM's European RFID Expert Group and standardization committees such as Odette, ISO and VDI, as well as industry representatives. A database on RFID standardization bodies and on RFID standards was prepared. Air-interface standards and air-interface regulations were reviewed, and the first set of recommendations to the EC were collected and will be finalized in the following workshops."

The first meeting will be followed by one on RFID data and network standards in November in Munich, and by one on application standards, to be held in January in Graz, Austria. In a separate session organized by Siemens and NXP, the group will work to provide the EC with a detailed research roadmap. The EC is providing the project 1.2 million euros in funding.

CE RFID was formed to knit together the patchwork of European RFID standards and radio regulations by analyzing the current situation from an industry and user perspective, and by recommending activities that will help create standards in Europe. Such recommendations will include frequencies and data formats, and will be made in close consultation with other industry associations such as EPCglobal and AIM Global.

The German Federal Ministry of Research and Education first floated the idea for CE RFID about a year and a half ago, Gabriel says, when it invited various RFID players to a series of consultations. As a result of these meetings, the group decided to create CE RFID in an effort to try to influence policy on an EU level.

This move came just at the right time, since the EC announced its own separate efforts in March to create an EU-wide RFID policy via public consultations (see European Commission Works on RFID Policy. The public consultations and a related series of workshops are almost finished, and the EC will announce the results on Oct.16. The EC is trying to alleviate fears about privacy breaches, while capitalizing on the benefits RFID brings to business. The organizatiuon is focused on the economic and social issues surrounding RFID.

As an established group, CE RFID was asked to participate in the EC's process (and given the funding to do so). It was also urged to contribute to the Working Group RFID/Logistics, part of the European Technology Platform on Smart Systems Integration (EPoSS), which is helping define future R&D needs for "smart systems."