CECE, the Brussels-based construction equipment association, is spearheading an ambitious Europe-wide industry development strategy to be known as ‘Construction 2030’. It is hoped that the strategy will be adopted by the new EU Commission executive which takes over later in the year.
CECE Secretary General, Riccardo Viaggi, explained that construction industry players are working on plans to take to another level the current program launched by the EU in 2014 and dubbed Construction 2020.
“We need to try and map the way for the future. We need to take forward the successes of Construction 2020 and lay down a new, updated strategy,” he said.
“The construction sector and the European economy are facing some huge challenges. Together with other trade associations, we are mapping out the successor to Construction 2020, adapted to today’s market and technological backdrop.”
CECE*, which based in Brussels, represents the interests of national construction equipment manufacturer associations in 13 European countries, including Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Russia and Turkey. The sector counts some 1,200 companies which employ about 300,000 people directly and indirectly. Their annual revenues amount to ca. 40 billion euro.
The association has an increasingly important role to play in promoting the interests of the sector at European level. The regulatory work of the EU legislators in Brussels is important for the industry.
The legislative framework for construction equipment is complex. Environmental legislation considerably affects the construction and design of our machinery – noise and exhaust emission regulations are just two examples, CECE explains. Indeed the industry is spending an important amount of R&D budgets on making construction equipment comply with complex and demanding EU environmental legislation, while investing in further product innovation.
CECE has an eight-person team in Brussels to manage its work with the EU. “I’m not sure if what we do is lobbying in the classic sense,” Viaggi explains. “In the EU context it is more about providing useful industry information and ensuring an accurate understanding of what we do.
“It also has a human dimension. Our people are generally very transparent people, very knowledgeable people respected for providing sound information, with as little bias as possible.
The association has established good one-on-one relationships with key officials in the European Commission where regulations and directives are drawn up. It also work closely with members the European Parliament during the discussion/consultation stage of any legislation.
“We believe the Commission shouldn’t be shy in working with the industry. We promote a very collaboration agenda,” Viaggi explains. “It is important that the officials have good, up-to-date information about the sector and the direction it is heading. Our value chain represents 18 million direct jobs and 9% of EU GDP, which is more than the automotive or chemicals sector.”
CECE’s work is also about furthering an accurate image of construction and the value chain. “We try to paint a more complete and modern image of the industry. Particularly in terms of what the industry means in terms of job creation, and how it can support today’s societal challenges, in particular demographic changes and youth unemployment,” he says.
“This work is undertaken for the whole value chain, not just for construction machines. We work with the federations of contractors, of product manufacturers, architects, crafts and SMEs, and also with clients such as real estate owners, social housing owners, developers and procurement authorities.”
The sector has undergone a complete transformation since the 2008 economic crisis and there is a new story to tell about the sector – one that can attract younger people and female workers, he adds. Some of our larger members such as Volvo CE are actively contributing to that.”
Digitalisation of the construction equipment sector is a key priority for CECE. At the beginning of 2018 a consulting team was tasked with a project on the digitalisation of construction site management, aiming at enabling a successful digital transformation.
The project involves multiple data collection tools inserted in a methodology. It also focuses on promoting business-friendly regulation to reap the benefits of the data economy.
CECE is also now working closely with the EU Commission’s department for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG Connect) regarding the digital transformation of the construction industry.
“We are trying to create the first digital industrial platform for construction – an environment where data for the construction value chain is exchanged freely, from planning through to building phase and even demolition. This is the new interface we have with DG Connect. We are also starting to move things from a funding point of view.”
Issues of emissions are generally handled by the Commission’s enterprise specialists in DG Grow. “The future European Commission executive may organize things differently. It will be interesting to see how the new Commission is set up,” Viaggi comments.
CECE also has to keep a close eye on developments regarding cars and trucks. There is an awareness that the measures introduced for vehicles are often proposed for off-road vehicles.
“Environmental legislation must protect the environment and enable our industry to stay competitive. Policy makers should allow industry to be customer-driven and to develop an innovative approach.
“We are trying to promote proper and informed arguments regarding CO2 thresholds for off-road vehicles. We have a ‘holistic’ approach to CO2 emissions.”
* the Committee for European Construction Equipment