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23 November 2020

"The ETA route is an integral part of the CPR acquis"

The outgoing EOTA president, Karsten Kathage (DIBt, Germany), looks back and to the future.

Due to "Coronavirus delays", I will probably go down in the annals of EOTA as the longest serving EOTA president. It has been an honour to steer the common network of the European Technical Assessment Bodies for the last four and a half years.

I would like to thank all EOTA colleagues, my fellow officers, the EOTA Secretariat and, in particular, our General Secretary Sergio Vazquez Jimenez for their support and commitment. I would also like to thank our partners in the construction industry, in research and in administration for the good and trustful cooperation.

EOTA has always been about cooperation, technical excellence, mutual trust and working together for the success of the valuable European Technical Assessment (ETA) route. This is why I am at ease about passing on the baton to my successor who will be nominated by the General Assembly in December 2020.

The last years have seen the EOTA network grow and reach out beyond the borders of Europe. A partnership with the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) in the US underlines the international dimension that EOTA and the European Technical Assessment route have achieved.

In many respects, the last years have also been challenging. Discussions about a possible review of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) started virtually at the same time as my presidentship, with a new extensive consultation process launched in 2020. While it is worth scrutinizing how we can make the European legal framework more effective and develop it further, it seems just as important to preserve, maintain and keep up-to-date the CPR acquis.

To me, the ETA route itself is a major CPR achievement and an integral part of this acquis. The EU has been successful in developing an assessment route of high international standing that keeps the market open for innovative and, more generally, non-standard construction products, making product performance comparable all over Europe and ensuring a high level of construction works' safety.

EOTA and the ETA route owe a significant part of their success to their ability to find a fair balance between different interests. There are legitimate legal and regulatory demands not only with regard to the product itself but beyond that with regard to the safety of construction works. There is the manufacturers' need for a trusted technical assessment recognised across Europe to launch new products on the internal market and give them credibility and visibility. Last but not least, there is the users' need for reliable and comparable technical product information to minimise liability risks.

A recent study on the added value of ETAs and EADs for the construction industry commissioned by EOTA confirms that the ETA route, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, continues to meet these needs. Steering this well-established route successfully into the future should therefore be our common objective.

On that note, best wishes for the next 30 years, E(O)TA!

Dr Karsten Kathage
Dr Karsten Kathage
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