1 Aug 2012
Standards for sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector
On 31 July 2012 the European Commission presented a strategy to boost the construction sector, in which the Eurocodes, a set of European standards for the design of buildings and other civil engineering works, play a key role. The Eurocodes strengthen the competitiveness of the sector, by helping European construction companies to work with greater ease in other Member States. The JRC's Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) has contributed significantly in bringing the Eurocodes to their present stage and is now supporting their implementation, harmonization and further development.
Construction is a crucial sector for the European economy, generating almost 10% of EU GDP and providing 20 million jobs. However, as a consequence of the financial and economic crisis and the housing bubble, building and infrastructure work fell by 16% between January 2008 and April 2012 across the EU-27. The strategy presented by the Commission proposes several initiatives to support the sector, including measures to make European construction companies more competitive both within the EU and on the global market through the further promotion of the Eurocodes.
Since 2010 the Eurocodes have reached the final stage of national implementation by the Member States as they are now replacing all national standards, assuring more uniform safety levels for buildings and critical infrastructures within the EU, although each country has the option of adapting the Eurocodes to their specific conditions and risk assessment regarding climate, seismic risk, traditions, etc.
The JRC is providing IT support for the implementation of these standards – a dedicated website on the Eurocodes has been developed and a Centralised Eurocodes Helpdesk will be launched in the coming months. The JRC is also monitoring the use of Eurocodes in Member States by developing and managing the database of the National Determined Parameters, i.e. those values related to regulatory safety matters determined at a national level.
Another important aspect for a smooth implementation of the Eurocodes is training: the JRC, together with the European Standardisation Committee and the Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry, has been organizing several practical workshops and other dissemination activities. The next event, dedicated to 'Structural Fire Design of Buildings according to the Eurocodes' will be held on 27-28 November 2012 in Brussels.
The JRC also supports the promotion of the Eurocodes outside the EU, in particular for setting up an Action Plan for the implementation of the European Standards/Eurocodes in Russia. On 1-2 October 2012 the JRC is organizing and hosting a seminar on ‘Bridge Design with the Eurocodes’ for Russian experts and designers, followed by the Third High-level EU-Russia Regulatory Dialogue meeting of the construction sector subgroup on 3 October 2012.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council 'Strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector and its enterprises'