Since the nomination in Naples, we have had a very interesting and intense period. On one side, the European Commission took regulatory decisions in the field of climate and energy which will have a major impact on our industry in the coming years. On the other side, our working groups have been working at the development of brochures on the benefits of pitched roofs and clay masonry materials. Furthermore, we have reinforced even more our network in Brussels through our cooperation with Cerame-Unie and the European Masonry Alliance on the occasion of the European elections and its follow-up activities. Last but not least, our experts have continued their cooperation and exchange of information on technical dossiers like standardisation, sustainability and so on.
Europe’s structural crisis is significantly changing the profile of the sector. Indeed, the economic situation remains difficult – in several countries we have lost over 50 % of the production volumes. The lack of investment in the construction sector prevents the necessary retrofit of the existing building stock and is leading to a housing shortage lagging behind the needs of the population in some countries. For this reason, we call on European and national authorities to implement extraordinary measures to support the relaunch of the housing sector as quickly as possible, with a particular focus on affordable social housing, renovation and rebuilding. In this context, I am convinced that the sector is well-placed to match the upcoming opportunities and challenges, thanks to better attention to the added value of the products and the industry’s focus on the needs of the market with regard to sustainability, energy efficiency, acoustics, etc.
I plan to continue reinforcing TBE as the common voice of European tiles and bricks manufacturers. We need to relaunch the relationship with European institutions after the recent elections to make sure industry interests are taken into account when crucial decisions are made in the near future in policy areas like climate and resource efficiency. At the same time, TBE will remain an effective platform for the members to exchange information and best practices in relevant areas like sustainable construction and standardisation. All this will be possible with the active involvement and cooperation of our members across Europe.
Actually we have already reversed this trend since last year. In June 2014 the TBE annual meetings were organised for the first time simultaneously with the general assembly of a national association, namely ANDIL, the Italian brick and tile association. Thanks to that, we registered more than 170 participants, with many company representatives. I believe the Congress was a perfect example of synergy between European and national associations, as the simultaneous organisation of annual meetings gives the opportunity to more producers to attend them both. We have decided to repeat this experience, and this year’s congress in Leuven is co-organised by the Belgian Brick Association (BBF) and the Royal Dutch Association for Building Ceramics (KNB). We expect around 100 participants.
As we can see in our daily lives, European legislation increasingly impacts us not only as manufacturers but also as citizens. Nowadays, the European regulatory framework can significantly affect the competitiveness of companies, as many national laws, regulations and standards derive from European legislation. I would cite the legislation on Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as an example. Around 1000 brick and tile installations are included in the scope of the ETS. They will receive sufficient free allocation until 2019 due to the fact that the industry is one of the sectors exposed to high risk of carbon, jobs and investment leakage. This was made possible thanks to the joint action of TBE and its members across Europe.
It is essential that the sector as a whole better communicates the positive elements of our products to the downstream players of the value chain, such as architects, planners and builders. As mentioned before, a very high priority of the last year has been the development of two brochures on the benefits of pitched roofs and clay masonry products. The documents, which were developed by the relevant working groups with the support of a communication agency, highlight the advantages from the economic, environmental, aesthetic and technical viewpoints. As anyone in our industry knows, clay bricks, blocks roof tiles and pavers are sustainable and durable as they are made of 100 % natural resources and outlast generations. Furthermore, they ensure excellent performance with regard to energy efficiency, acoustic insulation, indoor air quality, etc. Thanks to their versatility and aesthetic properties, they have shaped the built environment for centuries and offer innovative solutions for the buildings of tomorrow. The two brochures will be essential to disseminate these messages across Europe. We will ask our members, both companies and national associations, to use them in the national context during fairs, annual meetings, conferences and so on. In order to facilitate this process, they will also have the opportunity to translate them in their national language.
The interview was conducted by Zi Editor Anke Bracht.
Tiles & Bricks Europe