CECE calls on Commission to help save manufacturing jobs

By Richard High14 November 2008

Committee for European Construction Equipment (CECE) president Dr Tim Leverton has called on the European Commission to help save manufacturing jobs in Europe.Dr Leverton's call follows news that construction equipment manufacturers' expectations for the next few years are for a "strong decrease" in sales.

Such sentiment, said Dr Leverton, was the result of lower construction activity and problems in financing new construction projects and machinery across the world. In a statement issued following last month's CECE Congress in York, UK, Dr Leverton said incoming orders over the last few months have shown a "drastic change" in demand.

September 2008 sales figures for earthmoving equipment in Western Europe, he added, were -45% below the same month last year. With such a drastic fall in sales "urgent action" is needed to safeguard the interests of manufacturers and their customers, said Dr Leverton.

"I am writing to Commission vice-president Günter Verheugen (responsible for enterprise and industry) to underline the critical need for action to address job insecurity caused by the unprecedented levels of market uncertainty - a situation that could send many SMEs in our sector out of business," said Dr Leverton.

"I am suggesting a practical four point action plan that, if implemented straight away, could give our industry a vital bridgehead to a more orderly future. As safeguarding jobs is a top priority in the EU we are confident of a fair hearing from the Commission," he added.

The proposed action plan is:

1 a very quick co-ordinated effort by the European institutions to agree on a 50% flexibility provision in the regulations governing the move to the next stages of engine emission reductions. This would enable industry to keep the costs connected to the new exhaust emission legislation at a more reasonable level with minimal influence on the environment.

2 confirmation by the Commission that the construction equipment sector will get access to low interest loans similar to the planned € 40 billion for the car sector. These loans would enable construction equipment manufacturers to adapt their machines to the stricter engine emission legislation and more fuel-efficient technologies.

CECE estimates just € 1,5 billion over three years would offer significant relief for the sector in funding R&D projects.

3 support for a pan-European initiative to exclude construction equipment from those parts of the European market that is not compliant with European directives. CECE believes that a surplus of equipment in the global market could draw more illegal plant into the EU - and further undermine the sector. They are calling for a co-ordinated policy supported by the Commission and implemented in Member States to improve market surveillance measures.

4 work with all EU institutions, Member State governments and interest groups to stress the evidence that investment in construction and especially infrastructure projects, is a proven way of providing economic stimulus and creating and safeguarding jobs.

This will be a clear benefit to the whole EU economy.

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