German Company Gets Early Start on Single Market

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

AT Klockner Moeller GmbH, a German electronics firm, Europe's Single Market is slipping in unnoticed.

"In reality, it's not very dramatic," says company spokesman Jorg Brugge, echoing the sentiments of many European manufacturers.

In its latest annual report, this manufacturer of robotic controls and motor switches mentions the Single Market only once, announcing that it has been certified as meeting new Europe-wide industry standards set by the European Community. This, it said, gives it "free access" to the Single Market.

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But that is really a technical point, as Mr. Brugge makes clear, because his company has had free access to Europe for years. Klockner Moeller, part of the famous German "Mittelstand" (mid-sized companies which form the backbone of the economy), already has sales or production facilities in every West European country, plus new offices in Eastern Europe.

The year 1993, according to Brugge, "is not really going to open up any new markets for us."

At Klockner Moeller, as at many other European companies, the biggest challenge related to the Single Market has been to meet industry standards that, as of the new year, apply to every EC country.

Klockner Moeller accomplished this well in advance of the Jan. 1 deadline, but it "took a lot of work," says Bernd Olschewski, director of quality control.

The company was the first German firm in its industry group to be certified as having met the EC's standards, Mr. Olschewski says. It was a job that took from 1988 to 1991 to complete, although it involved meeting only two norms related to product quality and safety.

During this time, Olschewski was not actually changing the company's industrial norms. He was merely documenting the fact that his company - through great foresight, he adds - had already been using the standards which the EC later chose. The documenting, he says, was a tedious job, but necessary as proof that Klockner Moeller indeed met the requirements.

Not all of his competitors, he adds, have yet been certified.

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