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13 October 2020

EOTA celebrates 30 years at the side of the construction industry

For 30 years, the European Organisation for Technical Assessment (EOTA) has dedicated its scientific and technological expertise to the service of the construction sector. As one of the founding members of EOTA, DIBt helped shape the organisation form the very start and was instrumental in bringing along some of its major successes. For example, DIBt was the responsible Technical Assessment Body for the development of the first European technical approval guideline ETAG 001 for metal anchors for use in concrete. DIBt also issued the first European technical approval, which formed the basis for the very first CE marking affixed to a construction product.

In cooperation with its partners from the industry and public administration, EOTA was successful in establishing the ETA as an independent assessment of highest international standing and as a frequently used basis for the CE marking of construction products not covered by a harmonised European standard. As Paul Caluwaerts, EOTA Secretary General from 1992-2012 recalls in the below piece, finding common European solutions was not always easy, but it was worth the effort. And it still is, says current EOTA president Karsten Kathage (DIBt). “The ETA is a key instrument also in today’s environment, allowing the market to respond quickly to changing customer needs and new regulatory requirements, for example, those designed to make our industry greener. The ETA provides an impartial assessment of non-standard construction products based on transparent criteria harmonised across Europe. The ETA thus ensures a high level of construction safety and fair competition.”

Paul Caluwaerts ...

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.

Paul Caluwaerts
EOTA Secretary General from 1992 - 2012

About the author: Paul Caluwaerts obtained a degree in civil engineering at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1971. Between 1973 and 1992 he worked for the Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI). In this position, he was seconded to the Secretariat of the European research initiative EUREKA where he was responsible for the continuous development of research contacts and the coordination of European programmes from 1989 to 1992. In April 1992 he was appointed Secretary General of EOTA, steering the organisation with expertise, vision, diplomacy and pragmatism until his retirement in 2012. As the long-standing EOTA Secretary General, he helped shape the European approval and assessment system for construction products in many instances, a role which has won him wide recognition in the industry.

Paul Caluwaerts
Paul Caluwaerts – EOTA Secretary General from 1992 - 2012
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