On occasion of the plenary session held on 12-13 December 2018, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an Informative Report on the Europe's woodworking competitiveness factors.
- The EOS Secretariat has been actively involved in the elaboration of this Informative Report trying to provide the EESC Members with relevant and appropriate information on our Industry.
This Information Report aims to assist the EU institutions in articulating a strategy and possibly ad hoc initiatives that can optimise the economic potential of the wood industry for job creation, trade expansion and social development. Member States are invited to create a positive legislative environment to promote the use of wood products.
The EESC recognises that the positive climate effect of using wood can be further enhanced by promoting the use of locally sourced wood. For this reason, the EU Commission is invited to elaborate a study on the climate-related, economic and social benefits of using locally sourced harvested wood products. In order to facilitate the increased use of wood in residential and non-residential buildings, the EESC suggests that EU research programmes focus on new applications of the European hardwood species that are currently underutilised.
“Monitoring international developments on raw material trade” is also considered of crucial importance. China's flourishing economy, coupled with policy constraints limiting domestic forest production (due to a logging ban), has resulted in skyrocketing forest product imports over the last several years. The EESC emphasises that “this growing import demand is having major impacts particularly on European hardwood producers: for several years − in which 30% of the sawmill plants have been shut down in France, Germany and Belgium alone, European sawmills specialising in this type of timber have been denouncing a lack of oak and beech due to the exports to China”.
Considering that, in most Member States, woodworking continues to suffer from an undeserved negative image which affects its attractiveness and which, to some extent, explains the difficulties in hiring and retaining young people as well as skilled workers, the EESC suggests that appropriate programmes at EU and national levels should be encouraged in order to improve the attractiveness of the sector to young people. Moreover, Member States and local communities should collaborate with the wood industries in order to communicate to society and to the young generation the importance of forests and forest-based industries while showcasing the correlated innovative and sustainable character.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is an EU advisory body comprising representatives of workers' and employers' organisations and other interest groups. It issues opinions on EU issues to the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, thus acting as a bridge between the EU's decision-making institutions and EU citizens.