ACE Info 6.06
English language version
Welcome to the sixth issue in 2006 of ACE Info, the regular update from the Architects' Council of Europe (ACE) that will give you, at a glance, information on current issues, highlighting emerging areas of activity and informing you of matters of interest in the field of architectural policy.
This issue is also available in French.
Services Directive - The European Council Adopts Common Position
On the 24th July last, the European Council adopted its Common Position on the Services Directive. The adopted text is substantially in line with the text adopted by the European Parliament at First reading and with the Commission’s amended proposal. The key features of the Common Position are that the scope of application of the directive has been slightly modified, it clarifies the services that are excluded from application of the directive, includes the provisions relating to the freedom to provide services (with a screening procedure for restrictions) and on administrative cooperation and it extends the period of transposition of the directive from two to three years.
In the meanwhile the Commission has adopted a communication on the common position of the Council stating that it approves the text as a whole and various amendments that were made to it.
The text will now go back to the European Parliament for the Second Reading. The expected timetable for the adoption of the directive is therefore as follows:
- First exchange of views in the IMCO
Committee on the 4th September (in Strasbourg)
After the EP plenary vote, the Commission will give its views on any amendments adopted. The Council then has a maximum of 4 months to decide whether it can accept the European Parliaments amendments, which means that it is possible (but unlikely) that the directive will be adopted by the end of this year under the Finnish Presidency. It is more likely that the final adoption will occur in early 2007 under the German Presidency.
Parliament Strengthens its Control over the Commission
The European Parliament has recently taken another major step towards increasing its powers, obtaining the right to revoke decisions taken by the Commission to implement legislation by the comitology procedure. Comitology emerged in the 1960s when the Council recognised that it lacked the resources to make all the necessary implementation rules and decided to delegate implementing powers to the Commission. In order to retain some legislative control, committees made up of experts from each of the Member States were established to work with the Commission on the technicalities necessary for the application of EU law.
In most cases the Commission can only adopt implementing measures with the approval of the relevant committee and, in the absence of approval, the proposed measure is referred back to the Council. In 1999 there was a Comitology Decision that brought minor improvements in terms of greater transparency and that ensured that the Parliament would receive full information on all comitology decisions. Negotiations have been going on for some time on the reform of the comitology procedures and, on the 6th July last, a compromise was agreed that now gives to the Parliament a number of new powers:
The Parliament will have the right to call-back and therefore block any implementing measure under co-decision legislation on condition that it votes by an absolute majority of more than 366 votes in favour regardless of how many MEPs are in the chamber for the vote.
At present, MEPs have the right to limit the Commission’s implementing powers by setting maximum periods, known as “sunset clauses” for it to adopt the necessary rules for applying new laws in Member states. Under the new agreement, MEPs will only be able to confer powers on the Commission for an indefinite period except in exceptional circumstances.
The new rules are meant to improve the transmission of information from the Commission to the Parliament as the Commission has now agreed to set up a detailed information system on all comitology committees’ activities in all official languages of the Parliament (previously they only transmitted the information in three languages).
To read further information on comitology
go to the Euractiv Dossier on the subject at:
Patrick Nelli, Head of Delegation for the CNOA (France) Dies
It is with great regret that we inform our readers of the tragic death of Patrick Nelli, Head of Delegation to the ACE for the Conseil National de l’Ordre des architectes in France, following a heart attack. Patrick was just 51 years old and is survived by his wife, Sophie and their two children.
The ACE extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Patrick and to his colleagues and friends. He will be greatly missed.
Upcoming ACE Events and Meetings
General Coordination Meeting – 8th
September – Brussels
Commissioner Hübner Takes an Active Interest in the Hous-Es Network
The European Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy, Mrs Danuta Hübner, has taken an active interest in the URBACT Network on urban regeneration (large housing estates) known as Hous-Es. This network is lead by the city of Poznan (PL) and the ACE is an associated partner. On the 22nd and 23rd of June in Torun, Poland, the Commissioner gave a keynote speech at a conference entitled “Cohesion Policy and Cities” and at the event, the Project Manager of the Hous-Es network, Krzysztof Baczynski, met with the Commissioner. At that meeting it was confirmed that the Commissioner will participate in one of the seminars of the network and in the Closing Conference. Mrs. Hübner also used the occasion to stress the importance of the URBACT Programme and she made particular reference to the Hous-Es network.
The next seminar of the Hous-Es network
is scheduled to take place in Duisburg from the 11th to the
13th September. For further information on the network go to:
New Member of Staff for the Construction Unit of the Commission
Claes Andersson has joined the Construction
Unit of the DG Enterprise. This is a Unit with which the ACE has close
contact as it is responsible for matters relating to the Construction
Sector and, in particular, to the theme of the competitiveness of the
construction sector in the EU. In recent months a number of studies relating
to this theme have been commissioned by the Unit and the ACE has been,
for instance, actively involved in the Steering Group for a study to propose
a harmonised European methodology for the Life Cycle Costing of buildings.
For further information on the activities of the Unit go to:
Eva Schultz back in EUROCITIES Secretariat as Senior Policy Adviser
After a one-year leave during which
she was responsible for the organisation of the successful major Urban
Futures 2.0 Conference in Stockholm held at the beginning of May 2006
(during which the ACE had organised a workshop (see issue 03/06 of ACE
Info), Eva Schultz has resumed her collaboration at the Secretariat of
EUROCITIES, the network of large cities in Europe, as from June 2006.
In her new responsibilities she will be overseeing, among other things,
Governance and International Affairs. The ACE has an on-going cooperation
with EUROCITIES and Eva is one of its regular interlocutors and it is
intended to seek to reinforce this cooperation.
ETAP Forum to Meet for the First Time in November 2006
The European Commission believes that
eco-friendly technologies are good for business and good for the future.
It is for this reason that the Commission launched, over a year ago, the
Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) that aims to promote these
technologies across the EU. It is a fact that Europe is the recognised
world leader in many of these technologies and the Commission hopes that
it will maintain this position over time. It is for this reason that the
Commission has established the ETAP Forum and it will meet for the first
time in Poznan, Poland on the 23rd and 24th November
next and will discuss the theme of financing Eco-Innovation. For more
information on the ETAP go to:
The Commission Issues Guidance on how to Award Low-value Contracts Fairly
On the 24th July last, the Commission published an interpretative communication on public procurement contracts that are not covered – or only partly covered – by the directives on Public Procurement. The aim of the non-binding text is to recall the rules that derive from the EU Treaty, to interpret Court of Justice case law and to provide public authorities with guidance on how to award this kind of contract. The contracts principally targeted are those whose value falls below the thresholds set down in the relevant directive.
In order to download the text go to:
17 Member States Allowed to Apply Reduced VAT Rates Until 2010
On the 25th July last, the European Commission adopted a draft decision allowing 17 Member States to continue, or to start, applying reduced rates of value added tax (VAT) until the 31st December 2010 on some labour intensive services. In June 2007 the Commission will present an impact study on the effect that the implementation of reduced VAT is having on the working of the internal market in these services. Eight Member States (Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Malta, Latvia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia) have asked to be allowed to apply reduced VAT rates for the time or to amend the authorisation they negotiated when they joined the EU. Eight Member States (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom) have been authorised to continue applying reduced VAT rates and Greece has requested an extension to the scope of its previous request.
Of interest to the architectural profession is the application of reduced VAT rates to the renovation of private dwellings, which is one of the five categories of labour intensive services to which the decision relates. The countries that will apply reduced rates for these services (but excluding materials which form a significant part of the supply) are Belgium (for dwellings completed more than five years ago), Cyprus, Spain (only for bricklaying work), France (dwellings completed more than two years ago), Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands (painting and plasterwork on dwellings more than 15 years old), Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom (Isle of Man only).
The Energy Performance of Buildings and Renewable Energy
A recent study, supported by the European
Commission Energy framework Programme under the Altener Programme, concludes
that the requirements of the Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings
offers a perfect opportunity to encourage the use of renewable energy
sources. The study proposes a combination of regulatory, financial and
information policies that could be incorporated by Member States in the
energy performance regulations that are required to be introduced under
the provisions of the directive. The project acronym is “Build-On-RES”
and stands for Benchmarking energy performance building regulation
on incorporation of renewable energy sources (RES) for a RES oriented
EU Model Building Code”. More information on the project can be found
Questionnaire on the Impact of European Community Policies on Competitiveness in the Construction Sector
The Manchester Business School is currently undertaking a Study for the DG Enterprise on the Impact of European Community Policies on the Competitiveness of the Construction Sector. It has prepared an online survey for completion by businesses in the sector and it is currently seeking responses so as to ensure a statistically reliable survey. Readers of ACE Info are urged to reply so as to ensure the achievements of the goals of the study.
To respond to the survey in English,
To respond to the survey in French,
Newsletter on the European Eco-Label
DG Environment publishes a newsletter
on issues that affect the European Eco-Label (the flower symbol) to inform
stakeholders and interested persons of the ongoing developments and propagation
of the use of the Eco-Label. It can be accessed at:
European Principles for the Environment
The European Principles for the Environment (EPE) is an initiative launched in response to the drive for increased harmonisation of environmental principles, practices and standards associated with the financing of projects. The initiative is founded on the commitment of five signatory European-based Multilateral Financing Institutions (MFIs) to ensuring environmental protection and promoting sustainable development globally and across all sectors of their activities. The EPE are defined as the guiding environmental principles in the EC Treaty and the practices and standards incorporated in EU secondary environmental legislation.
The five signatories to the EPE are the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) and the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB). The EPE cover at least the respective regions of operations of each signatory institution. For projects located in the Member States of the EU, the European Economic Area countries, the EU Acceding, Accession, Candidate and potential Candidate Countries, the EU approach is the logical, uncontested and mandatory reference. The projects in this region should also comply with any obligation and standards upheld in relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements. In all other countries, projects financed by the signatories should comply with the appropriate EU environmental principles, practices and standards, subject to local conditions.
For further information go to:
Survey to the Portuguese Architecture of the 20th Century
The Ordem dos Arquitectos (OA), the
Portuguese Member Organisation of the ACE, has recently published an important
book that surveys the architecture of the 20th Century in Portugal.
The objective of the publication, which is the result of intensive research
and survey work, is to get a better knowledge of the work of Portuguese
architects in the 20th Century. The work was financed by the
European INTERREG Programme and it includes buildings from all decades
of the Century and from all building types. The resulting database can
be accessed at:
Natural Building – A Guide to Materials and Techniques
Written by Tom Woolley and published
by The Croswood Press, this book is aimed at architects, their clients,
self-builders, environmental groups and anyone interested in green issues.
It describes the many materials and methods that have been used by the
pioneers of natural building, thoroughly examining the techniques used.
it can be ordered online at:
Listing of events relating to Urban Issues
The European Urban Knowledge Network
(EUKN) maintains a very good listing of events that relate to urban issues
on its website, many of which are interest to architects. It can be accessed
Symposium: Entering the Evacuated Field
To be held in Essen, Germany on the
29th September 2006, this symposium will focus on unusual strategies
for challenging situations related to the re-use of urban wasteland, empty
buildings, disused products and forgotten brands. It is being organised
by the Zollverein School of management and design. Full details can be
Fire and Risk Management
To be held in Brussels, Belgium on
the 4th October 2006, this conference is being organised by
the European Elevator Association and will examine the latest developments
on the international stage in relation to fire safety in high buildings.
Full details can be requested by writing to:
The Construction Aspects of Built Heritage Protection Research Needs
Due to take place in Dubrovnik, Croatia
from the 14th to the 17th October 2006, this conference
and brokerage event will start with a plenary session of the ECTP Focus
Area on Cultural Heritage and will include information on the research
opportunities being provided by the upcoming Seventh Framework Programme
for Research and Development with a particular emphasis on the topic of
the preservation of architectural heritage. The website of the conference
Calls for Papers
The ACE frequently receives notifications of “Calls for Papers” for conferences and seminars worldwide. You may have written a thesis or doctorate paper that you would like to present or you may have an idea that you wish develop and to share with a wider audience – here is your chance:
Landscape Architecture. Look from home…
An annual International Exhibition-Competition,
this years event is to be held in the Centre for Architecture and Construction
Dom na Brestskoy in Moscow, Russia. It is a forum in the field
of architecture and interior design that draws professionals as well as
ordinary people together. The event is to be held from the 19th
to the 23rd October and more detailed information can be found
European Commission homepage
Search page for Commission documents
The Barroso Commission:
Website of the Finnish Presidency
European Forum for Architectural Policies
Sustainable building website
Collegi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya
(COAC) international relations database:
Consiglio Nazionale degli Architetti,
Pianificatori, Paesaggisti e Conservatori (CNAPPC) database - ArchiEuro:
Website of the European Construction
EU Impact Assessment in Practice
Consult a list of impact assessments
that the EU has carried out on various legislative packages at:
Register of Expert Groups of the European
ArchiEuropa website – comparative information
on practice of architecture:
Summary of current competitions:
Archi-Student website – a wealth of
information on schools and students of architecture in Europe:
In the website addresses given in ACE Info for the documents of the EU, you will frequently see the following near the end of the address: “_en”. These two letters define the language of the document (English in the case of “en”) and you can usually change these two letters in order to bring you to a different language version as follows:
The editorial board for the compilation of ACE Info is:
The ACE President: Jean-François
ACE Info is issued on a regular basis, with about ten editions per year. You are free to circulate the document as widely as you wish, to translate its contents for use in your publications and to refer to the information it contains once you credit the ACE as the origin.
If you wish to receive ACE Info regularly and you are not on the mailing list, you can register online at: http://www.ace-cae.org/Public/fsPublicNetwork_EN.html
If you have information that you wish to have included in the next edition then e-mail it (in English or French please) to [email protected]. The deadline for submissions is the first Friday of each month.
The editorial board wishes to acknowledge the sources of information for this edition of ACE Info which include the European Urban Knowledge Network, the European Commission, the Resource Efficiency Alliance, the European Investment Bank, the Euractiv website (www.euractiv.com) and Bulletin Quotidien Europe.
[email protected] - Comments and contributions welcome