This paper highlights the need and relevance of standards in the modern complex business world, and identifies the critical problem on the interaction and collaboration of formal bodies and industry consortia that are co-responsible for standards development. Then, the discusses specific aspects relating to competition and co-operation in ICT standards setting, including a discussion about the arguably counter-productive distinction between both groups.. Looking at both theoretical and practical aspects it concludes that co-ordination cooperation of standards setting bodies is urgently called for, and that standards policy in Europe is in need of an overhaul.