Presidential views

24 April 2008

During last year's CECE summit I tried to outline seven key factors important for a successful European construction equipment industry in the future. Among other things, the &wish-list' included the topic of education and training for skilled European engineers in our industry. I feel the clear need to initiate actions in this area, because in Europe it is becoming more and more difficult to find the engineers our industry needs.

I would like to initiate a number of activities to connect the industry, universities, researchers and associations, to jointly promote the interesting opportunities for engineers in the construction equipment industry. Also I would like to facilitate a more “European” education with a higher mobility of engineers and engineering students.

Second, I believe CECE needs to continue to strengthen its visibility with the key EU institutions. Last year we made a big step forward with our Summit in Brussels, but there still are areas to develop. It is crucial that members of the European parliament (MEPs) understand more about our industry and its challenges, and all of our member companies can contribute by establishing relationships with their own regional MEP.

What are the key challenges for CECE?

The main challenge for CECE remains the same. We have to represent the interests of our industry in the political process. We have to monitor carefully what is in the pipeline and fight for realistic, harmonised laws and fair market conditions. This is, and will remain, the most important function of CECE.

More and more we have to also look beyond the EU borders for an international harmonisation. While we made good progress with the harmonisation between the US and Europe we need now work intensively with countries like Russia or China to join this approach and not create separate and heavily diverging technical regulations.

This year has seen the implementation of Stage II of the &noise directive', and the first part of Stage IIIA of Europe's emissions laws. How has the industry coped with meeting the requirements of these laws?

Stage II of the noise directive is in place since January and it could have been a nightmare for some of our manufacturers, because some of the planned limit values were not technically achievable. After a long and intensive CECE campaign we achieved an amendment of the directive at the very end of 2005. This amendment is vital for the industry, but also for contractors who would not have the choice to buy certain types of equipment anymore.

For the other types of equipment Stage II values will be reached thanks to additional efforts in R&D. However, for some low volume machines this was an expensive exercise, where the benefit to the environment versus the economic burden for the industry seem to be out of balance.

For the exhaust emission legislation, our main concern at the moment is the timely availability of low sulphur diesel. New engine technology requires this but the amendment of the fuels directive is progressing too slowly.

Furthermore, the revision of the fuels directive carries the risk of a lengthy debate in the European Council and Parliament because it also includes the highly political issue of bio-fuel. We believe the revision should be split into two parts - one for bio-fuel and one for the other issues.

Our industry is committed to reduce emissions in three further stages, but if low sulphur fuel is not available, we cannot reach this goal. We will end up with laws that are misaligned with the US and will suffer a loss of competitiveness due to the need for two different production lines.

Does the heavy burden of legislation on European manufacturers make them less competitive on the global stage, due to the extra costs involved?

I do not see this as a competitive disadvantage for the European industry - as long as all manufacturers have to follow the same requirements when offering equipment in Europe. But this has to be guaranteed! If a machine from abroad can be imported and sold without anybody ensuring it fulfils the European requirements for safety and environmental protection, then the European manufacturers that spend a lot of money to ensure the compliance of their products are at a clear disadvantage.

Fairness must be ensured by the various responsible authorities in Europe - they need to have strict and coherent market surveillance in place. Today we have serious doubts about the efficiency of the existing European market surveillance system. It simply transfers responsibility to Member States without any clear rules, and gives no regard to the need for border controls in the context of this technical legislation.

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