EU Construction Products Regulation: Harmonised rules
The CPR is currently implemented through the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the resulting harmonised product standards.In 2020, the European Commission launched the public consultation ‘Evaluation and possible revision of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR)’ to collect input on the future of this regulation. In August of the same year, FEICA published its position on the review of the CPR on its website www.feica.eu. In addition, FEICA organised a webinar on 25 February 2021 to raise further awareness within its membership and among interested stakeholders.
The webinar was moderated by Steffen Maier (Sika), the FEICA Construction Technical Working Group Chair, and by Dimitrios Soutzoukis, FEICA Senior Manager Regulatory Affairs. The four guest speakers consisted of Martin Glöckner, Deutsche Bauchemie Director; Christian Doleschal, Member of the European Parliament; Dirk Breedveld (Msc), the Netherlands Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Senior Policy Officer (Building Regulation); and Oscar Nieto, Construction Products Europe (CPE) Technical Director. The event was attended by almost 300 registrants and clearly presented an overview of the current situation of the CPR.
Martin Glöckner presented problems that need to be addressed, such as the standstill in the harmonised standardisation and gaps that exist in the harmonised standards. He also charted the current activities of key players in the revision of the CPR: the European Parliament, Council and Commission. Glöckner also outlined the FEICA position, which mainly includes the following elements:
- The single market for construction products must be fully kept; no limitations by reducing the scope of the CPR. Maintain the strong role of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN)
- The importance of sustainability aspects
- Avoid double regulation and ensure coherence between CPR and chemicals legislation (REACH, CLP)
- The use of digitalisation to improve communication along the supply chain – thereby solving some CPR issues
Focusing on long-term solutions
Christian Doleschal presented the European Parliament IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection) ‘Own-Initiative Report (INI)’ on CPR. He stressed the importance of focusing on long-term solutions to ensure that the CPR is fit for the future, noting how digital technologies can provide dependable, clear information.
He emphasised the need to balance practical and legal requirements. In other words, there should be short-term solutions to deal with any backlog, as well as long-term solutions to resolve legal matters. For this, the European Commission should consult with all stakeholders. In addition, there is a need for strong market surveillance to verify that products comply with declared performance and planned use. All products traded on the international market must offer a high level of safety, including those available online. Finally, there is also a need for a balanced approach regarding construction products and sustainability.
Demand for concrete agreements through dialogue
Dirk Breedveld set out the view of the Dutch authorities and outlined some matters for improvement in the hENs. He urged CEN and the European Commission to produce concrete working agreements through constructive dialogue so that the standardisation system can keep pace with developments. He called for technical content development, preferably by CEN, but also by private standardisation groups if necessary, binding criteria and associated guidance when hENs or hTAs (harmonised Technical Agreements) are drafted and fully developed standardisation requests. In short, he emphasised subsidiarity, a focus on the performance of construction products and the use of CE marking, and constructive cooperation of all stakeholders.
Oscar Nieto presented, for the very first time publicly, an alternative proposal (Option F) for the future of the CPR. He called for short-term solutions within the present framework to remove the obstacles to the implementation of the CPR, but agreed on the added value of a revision of the legal text. He identified the problems that arise in the CPR implementation process and ways to fix them – suggesting ‘potential improvements’ while keeping standardisation as the source of the technical content. Option F offer solutions in the European and National context regarding the essential characteristics they require so that their regulations can better meet their needs. Nieto consequently supports viable solutions built on the existing system and its future evolution focusing always on strengthening the European internal market.