Concrete perspectives June 2012



Construction sector output fell

In April 2012, , seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector fell by 2.7% in the euro area (EA17) and by 6.6% in the (EU27) compared with the previous month.


New EU strategy to boost the competitiveness of the construction sector


On the occasion of the annual congress of the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) in Istanbul, the European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani presented the key points of the European Commission’s new strategy to boost the competitiveness of the construction sector.


The strategy has five key objectives:

1.Stimulating favourable investment conditions

The European Commission will increase the amount of available funds for energy efficiency and housing renovation.


The “Action for Stability, Growth and Jobs” and the “EU Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020” will ensure a doubled budget for such investments.


2.Improving the human-capital basis of the construction sector

This objective aims at attracting more students to the construction profession and creating the conditions for a better working environment and career management.


3.Improving resource efficiency, environmental performance and business opportunities

The Commissions intends to create mutual recognition or the harmonisation of the various existing assessment methods for construction products, processes and works in the future. It is believed to widen the concept of sustainable construction.


4.Strengthening the Internal Market for construction

The strategy aims at creating a more favourable internal market for construction products and services, reducing administrative burden and establish clearer and more predictable rules. Eurocodes are mentioned as a “facilitator” in the convergence process.


5.Fostering the global competitive position of European construction enterprises

This objective aims at improving transcontinental connections and access to international markets.


The European Commission intends to call for a High Level Forum with Member States in order to receive recommendations and amendments.

The strategy itself is scheduled to be published after the summer.


Please click here to read the Press Release of the European Commission.



Germany is the leader in environmental policy


The OECD has recently published an opinion on the German green market and concluded that Germany is the leader in environmental policy. The building renovation programme for energy efficiency in Germany has already mobilised 100€ billion investments and the country took the lead in reducing energy bills and avoiding carbon-dioxide emissions. The OECD praised the country for its efforts and said that the country had become a laboratory for green growth”.


Furthermore, according to the latest report of the ILO (International Labour Organisation), Germany’s building renovation programme creates around 300,000 direct jobs per year.

Energy efficient construction is one of the main drivers of job creation in Europe and according to the prognosis; it will remain the most important one in future as well.


At the same time, the recently published OECD report on The Jobs Potential of a Shift towards a low-carbon Economy warned that the lack of skills generated a big gap that would be a major obstacle of green growth in Europe. Therefore, it calls the EU to address this huge need for education and training for the next generation of green jobs.



Energy Efficiency Directive deal done

On 13 June 2012, negotiators from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached agreement on the Energy Efficiency Directive. Despite the ultimate aim to reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2020, there are fears that the compromise would result in only 14.5% total energy savings by 2020, well short of the goal that member states had previously agreed on. Furthermore, the draft Directive was also “weakened” by the fact that the 3% annual renovation rate now is meant only for central government-owned and occupied buildings (not for all public buildings, in contrast to the previous draft).


In order to close as much of the gap as possible, MEP Turmes has asked the Commission to propose additional measures, which have been included in the deal. One of these additional measures is an obligation on each EU member state to prepare a roadmap to make the entire buildings sector more energy efficiently by 2050 (commercial, public and private buildings included).



July 2012:Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) vote

September 2012: plenary sitting


Please click here to read more about the final compromise reached on 13 June 2012.



Commission takes Germany to Court

The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice for failing to respect EU rules governing the harmonisation of the marketing of construction products. Several complaints were received about the situation, which impose barriers to trade of the construction products. Manufacturers had reportedly difficulties to sell products in the German market, because of the German requirement that construction products must have additional national marks or approvals, despite the fact that they have already CE-mark. This national system requires construction products that are already CE–marked to undergo additional testing and acquire national approval, before they can be marketed in Germany.


Before the official decision, the Commission has repeatedly contacted Germany who acknowledged the use of and reliance on the national system of Bauregellisten, necessitating Ü marks for certain construction products.


The Commission’s case against Germany will focus on doors, gates and thermal insulation products.


Please click here to read the whole article on the website of the European Commission.




On the occasion of the BIBM General Assembly on 24 May 2012, several prominent speakers were invited to give presentation on relevant current issues. Mr Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of BPIE (Building Performance Institute Europe, presented two research studies of the Institute, “Europe’s building under microscope” and “Nearly zero-energy buildings”. Talking about the first study, Mr. Rapf gave an overview of the country-by-country review of energy performance of buildings. The survey covered legal, financial and technical information on the energy performance of buildings. The results of the study shows, that the final energy consumption of buildings has had a 50% increase in electricity and gas use and a decrease in use of oil and solid fuels by 27% and 75% respectively in the last 20 years. Furthermore, the study identifies barriers of energy efficiency in buildings, and concluded that financial, institutional and informational barriers are the key obstacles of energy efficiency.


Talking about the Nearly zero-energy buildings (nZEB), Mr. Rapf presented the basic principle of nZEB and highlighted the importance of a common European definition. He drew the attention to the fact, that future’s buildings, such as nZEB will probably have different energy consumption than the buildings of today. We might reduce the energy use of the operational phase of the buildings, but once we move towards nZEB, the energy consumption during construction and demolition phases will become comparable with the one during the operational phase.


Ms. Josefina Lindblom Policy Officer at the European Commission, DG Environment ( gave a presentation on Resource Efficiency. Ms. Lindblom is responsible for the future Communication on the Sustainable Buildings which is foreseen for 2013.


In her presentation, she outlined the European Union’s policy on Resource Efficiency and underlined the importance of the contribution of the building sector to achieve a greener economy. She invited the participants to contact her and send her their comments.


Mr. Bill Duncan, (Manager of the Fire Safe Europe Campaign, gave an interesting presentation about the work of the Fire Safe Europe Campaign. After the general principle and structure of the Campaign, he presented the European Union’s approach to the issue. He sadly concluded that the fire safety is not in the focus of the attention; however it is a basic “must have” issue. He pointed out, that the current renovate and rebuilding trend offers a good opportunity to remodel old buildings and take into consideration the modern conceptions of fire safety (e.g. reliable escape routes).


In addition, he told there was a need for the harmonisation of national rules.


Last but not least Mr. Jean-Marie Chandelle (Chief Executive of CEMBUREAU, took the floor and talked about current trends in the European cement industry. He gave a complete overview of the European cement industry and the European market. He also presented actions to respond to the CO2 reduction requirements at production and product levels.


The presentations were followed with Q&A section and lively discussion.





  • The European Commission held a conference on the Construction Product Regulation on 25 June 2012. Find out more by clicking here.


  • In response to the European Parliament’s draft bill on Public Procurement, BIBM sent the position paper and amendments to the Rapporteur (Mr Marc Tarabella, BE, S&D) and Shadow-Rapporteurs of the draft directive. The mentioned documents can be found on the BIBM Website “Members’ section” under “Construction Policy and Economics”. BIBM actively participated in the Working Group of CEPMC (Council of European Producers of Materials for Construction) to prepare a similar document supported by the whole construction products industry.


  • BIBM participated and gave a presentation at the Tiles and Bricks Europe Stakeholder Conference on 22 June 2012. The theme of the presentation was “Drivers for a responsible choice” in which BIBM promoted the Rebuilding option and presented a case study from Norway. The presentation is available on the BIBM Website Members section, under “Issues” and “BIBM Presentations”.


  • According to the figures released by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union, the euro area seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 11% in April 2012, unchanged compared to March 2012. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.3% in April 2012, compared with 10.2% in March 2012.

      European Commission – Press Release


    • A website is now available on the work of the CEN/TC 350. Find out more here.


    • The euro area and EU27 GDP remained stable in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 during the first quarter of 2012, compared with the previous quarter, according to second estimates released by Eurostat on 6 June 2012.

          European Commission – Press Release


    • On 8 June 2012, the European Commission presented a communication which sets next steps to stability, growth and jobs. In response to calls by the European Council and the European Parliament to improve implementation of the single market, the communication identifies financial services, transport, digital technology and energy as key sectors to achieve future growth.

          European Commission – Press Release


    • The figures of Eurostat confirmed that the euro area annual inflation rate decreased to 2.4% in May 2012, 0.2% lower than in April. The lowest annual rates were observed in Greece and Sweden (both 0.9%), while the highest in Hungary (5.4%).

          European Commission – Press Release


    • Latest figures shows, that the number of unemployed in the EU has continued to increase in April 2012, reaching a new high of 24.7 million. Youth unemployment worsened in 15 countries. Only three countries – Germany, Netherlands and Austria – post youth unemployment rate lower than 10 %, whereas twelve countries (including e.g. Ireland, Greece, Spain, Poland and Italy) recorded a rate higher than 25 %.

          European Commission – Press Release


    • In April 2012, in the construction sector, the seasonally adjusted production fell by 2.7% in the euro area (EA17) and by 6.6% in the (EU27) compared with the previous month.

          European Commission – Press Release


    • The Sustainable Concrete Forum and Loughborough University held a seminar aimed at collecting global and UK speakers to discuss the progress being made both in reducing the environmental impact of cement and concrete and in improving the sustainability of concrete construction. Please click here to find the conference materials.


    Manchester Metrolink

    Innovative Manchester Metrolink platforms win Project Award at 2012 British Precast Award. Instead of building each tram stop platform individually on site, the platform segments were made in the factory and delivered and lifted into position.The platform segments were designed and built at Laing O’Rourke’s Explore Industrial Park (EIP), under the company’s Design for Manufacture & Assembly (DfMA) approach.

    The project was judged by the jury as a “marvellous exemplar of the benefits of precast concrete.”


    For further information, please click here.



    10-11 September 2012

    Notified Bodies SG13

    Stockholm, Sweden


    18 September 2012

    BIBM Board meeting

    Bilbao, Spain


    26 September

    European Construction Forum

    Brussels, Belgium





    10 October 2012 (AM)

    BIBM Directors meeting

    Brussels, Belgium


    10 October 2012 (PM)

    BIBM Communication Commission

    Brussels, Belgium


    10-11 October 2012

    ECP Promotion Officers Conference

    Brussels, Belgium


    16 October 2012

    CEN/TC 229/WG 4

    Paris, France


    17 October 2012

    BIBM Environmental Commission

    Brussels, Belgium


    22-23 October 2012

    CEN/TC 104/SC 1