The European Organisation for Technical Assessment (EOTA) celebrates today a major milestone. For 30 years, our organisation has dedicated its scientific and technological expertise to the service of the construction sector. In the following piece, Paul Caluwaerts, EOTA Secretary General from 1992-2012, reflects on 30 successful years and looks to the challenges ahead.
Already 30 years of EOTA …
This is surely a moment to look back on the challenges overcome and successes celebrated during our history.
Let us recall the founding members of EOTA: drawing on their experience of similar voluntary schemes existing in many countries, they took on the challenge of creating an instrument for the impartial evaluation of construction product performances in the European regulatory context — in particular for those products for which CEN standards were not (yet) available.
Remember all the EOTA presidents, TB chairpersons, treasurers, TB members, members of the EOTA Financial Working Group and other EOTA bodies who devoted so much of their time and brought so much enthusiasm to the challenging task of creating and developing EOTA, in addition to their involvement in their home institutes and organisations. They shaped EOTA under all the varying EU regulatory schemes, and sometimes under very difficult administrative or financial circumstances, especially in the first years of EOTA’s existence.
Let us pay tribute to all the men and women from EOTA members and our partner organisations. Coming from different national legal environments, accustomed to different construction practices and with different scientific backgrounds, they nevertheless crafted the compromises required to reach consensus in a multidisciplinary context, resulting in their difficult work ultimately being validated at the European level. These successes resulted, as we know, in many product assessment methods as laid down in ETAGs, CUAPs and more recently EADs. Remember EOTA ‘s pride in issuing the first ETAG 1997, the first CUAP 1997, the first EAD 2015 and the first European technical approval (ETA) 1998.
We must also thank all the manufacturers and stakeholders, who have, for 30 years, believed in the ETA instrument as a way to CE marking. They understood that the ETA was the route for fostering their innovations and for opening new markets in and outside of Europe. They understand the value of an impartial evaluation of what their products can or cannot contribute to construction works. They understand this assessment strengthens the confidence customers place in the performances of their construction products and helps fulfil the regulatory demands of both the EU and different European Member States.
The result? Today the members of EOTA have issued more than 15.000 ETAs (approvals and assessments), for a large variety of construction products from relatively simple ones to complex, three-dimensional structures.
This milestone anniversary is also the time to look forward.
Let us envision EOTA and its members continuing serving the industry's needs for innovation in the ever-changing and ever more complex construction sector by developing European assessment methods for construction products and issuing the related ETAs. Let us hope that all stakeholders will continue, in true European spirit, to cherish the values and aspirations underlying the EOTA route for high scientific value, objectivity and responsiveness to market needs.
EOTA Secretary General from 1992 - 2012