CECE senses improvement in Europe

23 April 2013

Johann Sailer, president of CECE

Johann Sailer, president of CECE

While a majority of construction equipment companies in Europe are not satisfied with the current business situation, the industry hopes that things will improve again within the next six months, with last week’s Bauma show expected to stimulate business.

This is one of the results of a recent Business Barometer organised by CECE (the Committee for European Construction Equipment).

Speaking at Bauma in Munich, Germany, CECE also said it was continuing its campaign to raise awareness against non-compliant machines in Europe.

The Business Barometer’s results show a mixed picture regarding the mood in the European construction equipment sector. For the full year 2013, half of the companies participating in the monthly CECE survey expected an increase in their company turnover, while a third thought their business would decrease.

CECE said the European construction equipment industry increased its turnover by 3.4% in 2012, reaching €25 billion. It said that it was expected that the overall sales would stay at this level for 2013, adding that European manufacturers were expecting to compensate for a predicted drop in European demand of around 4% through increased sales outside Europe.

Accordingly, most European manufacturers plan to maintain their regular workforce and only alter the number of temporary workers slightly. CECE said a survey had shown that in 2012, the employed workforce had remained stable in Europe, with 17% of all participating companies having increased the number of workers while 21% faced mainly modest cuts.

It said that all in all, the sector ensured jobs and incomes to over 110,000 people directly in Europe, and to more than 100,000 others indirectly in the value chain.

Within Europe, 2012 mirrored the general economic situation of many countries. While demand was still growing in Scandinavia and Germany, the downward slope in Italy and Spain continued, with a sales decrease of more than 10%.

In 2013, only Turkey is expected to see an increase in demand, while all main EU markets, including Germany, are expected to shrink, said CECE.

Market surveillance

Market surveillance is currently high on the agenda of European legislative bodies. CECE said that as a long-time promoter of effective and efficient market surveillance, the European construction equipment industry was warmly welcoming the European Commission’s package that was presented on 13 February, 2013.

CECE said the package reflected many of the suggestions the industry had made over the past few months, yet it said the industry was calling for more ambitious measures in order to tackle the challenge of non-compliant machinery in the Internal Market.

The European Construction Equipment industry, represented by CECE, is working to ensure the EC proposal is duly backed.

CECE said the industry was pleased that the regulation brought the rules applying to consumers and capital goods together in one single instrument aimed at establishing uniform rules for market surveillance activities across the EU.

It supports the introduction of a broader definition of risk, which places all public interests on the same level of importance. While in the past, risk for public interest was mainly interpreted as risk for safety and health, now it should be extended to safeguard environmental protection regulated by EU harmonised legislation as well, said CECE. Any non-compliance with sector-specific EU legal requirements should be considered as a risk against public interests.

Member States should also inform and report about their national sector-specific programmes as well as the financial means they wish to allocate, said CECE – transparency must be ensured, it added.

The industry also supports the obligation for market surveillance authorities to follow up complaints from interested parties. CECE said this was crucial to involve manufacturers and the civil society in this common effort.

It added that Members States should provide better financing of market surveillance activities while customs authorities should implement border-to-border early alerts.

As market surveillance cannot be achieved at Member State level alone, the industry is pleased that more and greater EU co-ordination is foreseen by the legislation.

However, the industry is still calling on the European Parliament and Council to come up with additional amendments to improve the overall effectiveness of the proposed scheme.

During a European Parliament roundtable discussion organised on 20 March with key decision makers from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the industry, CECE called on the European Parliament to strengthen, and correct when needed, the Commission proposal for a new regulation on market surveillance.

Complex regulations

Among the points made were that although market surveillance is an activity confined to governmental bodies, regulations are complex, and products are technical and difficult to check. Therefore, input from industry is important to make the system work, said CECE.

It added that there was no way to ensure an effective market surveillance system in the Single Market if different penalties applied. “Harmonisation is crucial to ensure that rogue traders incur the same risks regardless of where or when they place their product on the EU market,” it said.

CECE also called for legal certainty to be ensured for the operators who manufacture their products in compliance with EU legislation.

As CECE president Johann Sailer recently pointed out, “Everybody knows that resources are scarce. For this reason I believe this point is important to motivate the authorities to abide by their obligations – if the fees collected are not reallocated to enhance the controls, no real virtuous cycle can be initiated.

“We therefore propose minimum thresholds or ceilings to harmonise sanctions, and an obligation for Member States to earmark partially, at least, the penalties collected to refinance market surveillance and customs controls.”

Finally, CECE said the regulation should oblige any economic operators who are caught placing non-compliant machines on the market to cover the costs of checks, withdrawal from the market or destruction of products.

Paul Burger of Hitachi Construction Machinery (Europe), CECE trade policy commission chairman, said, “We strongly believe that unlawful traders placing non-compliant products on the markets should bear the cost of the damage they cause.”

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