The implementation of the Eurocodes in the national regulatory framework
The construction sector is of strategic importance to the European Union (EU) as it delivers the buildings and transport infrastructure needed by the rest of the economy and society. It represents more than 9% of EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 50% of the fixed capital formation. It is the largest single economic activity and it is the biggest industrial employer in Europe. The sector employs directly almost 18 million people. Construction is a key element not only for the implementation of the Single Market, but also for other construction relevant EU policies, e.g.... Sustainability, Environment and Energy, since 40-45% of Europe’s energy consumption stems from buildings with a further 5-10% being used in processing and transport of construction products and components. The Eurocodes are a set of European standards which provide common rules for the design of construction works to check their strength and stability. In line with the EU’s strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (EU2020), standardization plays an important part in supporting the industrial policy for the globalization era. The improvement of the competition in EU markets through the adoption of the Eurocodes is recognized in the "Strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector and its enterprises" – COM (2012) 4331, and they are distinguished as a tool for accelerating the process of convergence of different national and regional regulatory approaches. With the publication of all the 58 Eurocodes Parts in 2007, their implementation in the European countries started in 2010 and now the process of their adoption internationally is gaining momentum. The Commission Recommendation of 11th December 20032 on the implementation and use of Eurocodes for construction works and structural construction products, stresses the importance of training in the use of the Eurocodes, which should be promoted in engineering schools and as part of continuous professional development courses for engineers and technicians. It is also recommended to undertake research to facilitate the integration into the Eurocodes of the latest developments in scientific and technological knowledge.