ACE Info 8.05
English language version
Welcome to the eight issue in 2005 of ACE Info, the regular update from the Architects' Council of Europe 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.
ACE General Assembly – New Era Begins
The second General Assembly in 2005 of the ACE was held in Luxembourg on the 18th and 19th November last. It was a significant moment for the Organisation as it elected, for the first time, its President for the period 2006-2007. This election marked the change from the old system of rotating the Presidency among the Member states of the EU to a directly elected President.
The successful candidate was Jean-François Susini, currently President of one of the French Member Organisations of the ACE (Conseil national de l’Ordre des architectes – CNOA); he will take office, along with the 10 ordinary members of the Executive Board, on the 1st January 2006 when the recently adopted reformed Statutes of the ACE come into force.
To complement this evolution in the ACE, the General Assembly adopted a Political Agenda and a Multi-Annual Work Programme for the period 2006-2008. The adoption of these important documents marks a shift in the approach of the ACE from a technical to a more political role and it will be the responsibility of the new Executive Board to implement the agenda and work programme.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution against price-dumping in the provision of architectural services. This represents a call, by the profession, for the implementation of policies that ensure that architects are adequately resourced in order to permit them to provide the level and quality of service that clients deserve and that will permit them to answer to the public interest in the work they undertake. The Resolution has been widely disseminated and can be accessed on the website of the ACE.
The General Assembly also adopted a Resolution congratulating the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU on its very significant contribution to the work of the European Forum on Architectural Policies in organising the series of event in Luxembourg in June 2005. Readers will recall that these events permitted the participants of the Forum to meet with the Ministers of Culture from the EU-25 in a joint session and for the Forum to prepare conclusions that were presented by the Luxembourg Presidency to all Member States after the event.
Furthermore, a profession-to-profession Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on the recognition of qualifications between the EU, represented by the ACE and the USA, represented by NCARB and the AIA, was signed in the presence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Public Works (Luxembourg), and of a representative of the US Embassy in Luxembourg. The signed Agreement has no legally binding effect, but it will be communicated to the Trade Representatives of both the EU and the USA so that it will form the basis of official negotiations in the context of the Trans-Atlantic Economic Partnership. It is worth recalling that the architectural profession has been chosen as a spearhead profession for the negotiation of MRA’s in this area and that the Member States of the EU through the 133 Committee (Services) have formally mandated the European Commission to carry out official negotiations of such Agreements. The ACE signed, in 2001, the first such profession-to-profession Agreement when it signed an MRA with Mexico and it expects to conclude negotiations with Canada on an MRA in early 2006.
Finally, the recently elected President of the UIA – Gaetan Siew – attended the Assembly in Luxembourg and he also met, informally, with the Executive Board in order to explore ways in which the two organisations can build a closer co-operative relationship in the coming three years. It is hoped that a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations will result from this initiative that will deliver more value to the Members of each organisation by a certain amount of co-ordination in relation to issues of common concern.
Further information on these items can be found on the website of the ACE at:
Carlos Hernandez Pezzi Re-elected President of the CSCAE (Spain)
Following elections held on the 2nd November 2005, Carlos Hernandez Pezzi was re-elected as President of the Spanish Member Organisation of the ACE, CSCAE, for the period 2006-2009. He has already served as President of the CSCAE in the period 2002-2005. The website of the CSCAE is:
Raffaele Sirica Re-elected President of the CNAPPC (Italy)
On 15 November, Raffaele Sirica was re-elected President of the Italian Member of the ACE, CNAPPC, together with the new Council Members, among whom Leopoldo Freyrie, current Past President of the ACE. On 15 October, Luciano Lazzari, who has been elected to the Executive Board of the ACE, was re-elected President of the Ordine of Trieste.
Sergejs Nikiforovs is the new Chairmen of the LAA (Latvia)
On the 30th September last, Sergejs Nikiforovs took up the position of Chairman of the Latvian Member Organisation fo the ACE. The website of the Latvian Association of Architects-LAA is:
The ACE Becomes an Associated Partner in URBACT Network
The City of Poznan, Poland, has established a Network of cities in the context of the URBACT Programme of the EU. The Network will address the issues of the regeneration and management of large-scale housing estates with a particular emphasis on architectural quality. The Network has (on the 7th November 2005) commitments from 5 cities with 6 further commitments expected and a further 6 cities considering joining the Network. Further information on URBACT can be found at:
ACE Events and Meetings in December 2005 and January 2006:
Work Group Registration and Licensing – 9th December in Brussels
ACE-EAAE Joint Working Party – 16th December in Brussels
Executive Board Extraordinary Meeting – 22nd December in Brussels
Work Group Education – 9th January in Paris
Work Group Urban Issues – January, date to be confirmed
Executive Board Meeting – 20th and 21st January in Brussels
IMCO Committee Votes on the Services Directive
On the 22nd November, the Internal Market and Consumer Affairs (IMCO) Committee of the European Parliament voted on the text of the proposed directive on Services in the Internal Market (SIM Directive). The vote had been postponed from the 5th October due to the high number of amendments (1,608) that had been tabled and due to the need to prepare compromise and consolidated amendments. The delay was worthwhile as there were 313 votes taken and the text was adopted by 25 votes in favour, 10 votes against and 5 abstentions. The rapporteur, Evelyne Gebhardt, abstained as she said that the retention of the Country of Origin Principle (albeit under a new name) made it impossible for her to vote in favour of the amended text while recognising that progress has been achieved on a number of issues.
For the architectural profession, the overall weakening of the text and the increased clarity around the question of the exclusion of those professions covered by the Qualifications Directive from the country of origin principle were welcome developments. However, in relation to the provision on the quality of services, the ACE notes that the provisions in relation to Codes of Conduct have been weakened and will only apply to cases of provision of services across borders.
The next significant step in the process will be the vote in the Plenary Session of the Parliament, scheduled for February 2006. The Council continues to work on the proposal, but will not adopt a common position until after the First Reading in Parliament is completed. The procedure can be tracked at:
Qualifications Directive is Published in the Official Journal
On the 30th September last, the text of the Qualifications Directive was published in the Official Journal of the EU. This means that it came into force on the 20th October and that Member States have until the 20th October 2007 to transpose the provisions of the Directive into national law in each of the 25 Member States.
In an important development for the architectural profession, the Commission has informed the ACE that the Advisory Committee on Education and Training in Architecture will remain in place for the full transposition period and that any qualifications that are challenged during the transposition period will be considered by the Committee. Because of this, the EU-15 Member states have been requested to nominate their representatives to the Advisory Committee and, at the time of writing, just 6 had done so. The Commission has made it clear that it will not be possible to hold a full plenary meeting until these nominations are completed. In the meantime a further meeting of the Diplomas Working Group is scheduled to take place on the 15th December next.
In effect, the Commission will have to run the two systems for recognition of architectural qualifications side-by-side through the transposition period. It has also confirmed that all qualifications currently listed will be simply transposed into the relevant annexe of the Qualifications Directive and that any new qualifications notified in the transposition period will be listed in both the Qualifications directive and in the Architects Directive.
The full text of the Qualifications Directive as published can be accessed at:
The ACE Issues Highly Critical Letter and Position Paper to Commissioner Kroes
Following the recent publication by the Commission of the follow-up communication on competition in Professional Services (see ACE Info 7-05), the ACE has written to the Commissioner responsible for Competition, Mrs Neelie Kroes (NL), stating its view that the Commission persists in its misunderstanding of the exact nature of architectural services, overlooks the public interest aspects of architecture and relies on flawed information – due to factors such as the inadequate methodology that was used in a study outsourced by the Commission - on which to build its proposals. The ACE was present at the recent Conference on Better Regulation of Profession Services and took the opportunity to also hand a copy of the letter and draft position paper of the ACE to Mrs. Kroes – her promised reply is still awaited.
It should be noted that other professions targeted by the Communication have also been highly critical of the work, but that the architectural profession is not in the front line for criticism – it is the pharmacists, the lawyers and the notaries who find themselves under most attack. The ACE letter and position paper can be downloaded from the ACE website by clicking the topic “Competition Issues and the Internal Market” on the homepage at:
The Third High Level Group Meeting of the ECTP
On the 22nd November last, the third meeting of the High Level Group of the European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) took place in Brussels. The meeting adopted the Strategic Research Agenda that had been prepared by the Support Group of the ECTP with a number of crucial amendments that took out references to research needs that would prepare society for long periods underground and that inserted references to the needs of users. The meeting also approved of the further development of research proposals on tunnelling techniques and on energy efficiency.
In another development in the field of research, the UK Presidency of the EU recently tabled a revised version of the proposed 7th Framework Programme for Research that contained a mixed bag of revisions. On the one hand it reinforced some references to buildings and construction, but, on the other hand weakened the possibilities for proposing research into the urban environment. It remains to be seen what happens with the text as it passes through the European Parliament.
The work of the ECTP can be followed by logging on to the ECTP website at:
Benchmarking of Construction Efficiency in the EU Member States
An important pilot study on this subject commissioned by the DG Enterprise of the European Commission is currently underway. It is being conducted by Bernard Williams Associates of the UK and it is in its final stages. Central to the work undertaken was the preparation of a questionnaire that the ACE helped to write. The questionnaire is available in five languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian and English) and is simple to fill out. For the pilot study to be representative of the various sections of the construction sector, it is important that as many answers as possible are given to the consultants. Readers of ACE Info are therefore urged to log on to the project website and complete the questionnaire:
At the end of the project an Evaluation Workshop is to be held in Brussels organised by the Commission, on 16th January in Brussels. This is an open event and interested persons are encouraged to register to attend the workshop by writing to:
Enquiry on Competences of Graduate Architects
The ACE, as part of its cooperation with the European Association of Architectural Education (EAAE), has learnt of an important enquiry that is currently being carried out by the European Network of Heads of Schools of Architecture on the competences of graduate architects. The objective of the enquiry is to investigate the skills and competences that the profession believes are important for graduate architects to possess. The expectation is that the results of the enquiry will provide the schools of architecture with a tool that will permit them to better articulate their educational objectives. Readers are encouraged to answer the questionnaire by visiting the following site:
Communication on Public-Private Partnerships Published by the Commission
The Commission has recently published (15 November) its Communication on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP’s) and Community Law on Public Procurement and Concessions. Its publication follows the public consultation on the Green Paper issued in April 2004. The Communication reports on the views expressed by various stakeholders and clarifies that the Commission does not see the need, at the present time, to adopt legislative measures on “institutionalised PPP’s”, stating that on the other hand it will prepare an Interpretative Communication on the Competitive Dialogue. However it does see the need for a legislative approach to the question of “concessions”. It is expected that the proposals on these issues will be issued during 2006. The Communication can be accessed at:
UNESCO Charter on Cultural Diversity Adopted
At the 33rd General Conference of the UNESCO, a Charter on Cultural Diversity was adopted with only one country – the USA – voting against. The Charter recognises the specific nature of culture and relates it to the WTO rules. As stated by the French Minister of Culture during the debate: “Works of art and of spirit must not be considered to be goods… In these times, when everything can be sold, where everything can become an object of trade, we must make a special place for culture”. At the debate on the Charter, the European Commission participated as it had been granted observer status with voting rights and it spoke on behalf of the 25 Member States of the EU. The Charter can be accessed at:
UIA-UN-Habitat Accord Signed
The International Union of Architects (UIA) and the UN-Habitat have signed on 3 October in Nairobi an Accord on co-operation, which establishes the terms and general conditions under which the two organisations undertake to have a formal co-operation. The co-operation objectives include: reconstruction and development following conflicts or catastrophes) ; water resources and services towards the poorest populations; sustainable urban environment ; eradication of poverty ; and formulation and evaluation of projects and activities of reconstruction and development.
More information : www.uia-architectes.org
New Phase in Cooperation Between the Commission and the EESC
A new cooperation agreement between the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) was signed on the 7th November. The new agreement covers closer cooperation and better communication and dialogue with civil society, aiming to boost coordination of the two bodies’ priorities and improve the Commission’s monitoring of EESC opinions. The President of the EESC, Anne-Marie Sigmund, said that the agreement’s aims were a sign of a new culture of dialogue and debate with civil society and the development of a participatory democracy. More information on the work of the EESC can be found at:
Adoption of an Initiative Report on the Urban Dimension in the Context of Enlargement
On the 13th October, the European Parliament adopted, by 540 votes in favour, 29 against and 36 abstentions, the own-initiative report prepared by Jean-Marie Beaupuy (ALDE France) on behalf of the Regional Development Committee on “The Urban Dimension in the Context of Enlargement”. The Parliament takes the view that the priorities of urban development need to be stepped up and that these should include housing and the refurbishment of urban areas, infrastructure, transport, tourism, the environment, waste removal, water provision, culture, training, education, health care and social protection. The adoption of the report is closely linked to the negotiations of the Structural Funds (see below). To read the report log on to:
Communication on Urban Dimension of Strategic Guidelines for Cohesion Policy
Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, has responded positively to the adoption of the own-initiative report of Jean-Marie Beaupuy by the European Parliament (see above) reporting that the Commission is preparing a Communication on the urban dimension of the strategic guidelines for Cohesion Policy. The Communication is expected to be ready in early 2006 with a public consultation scheduled for March 2006. Ahead of publication, the content will be debated a the informal EU Ministers meeting on “Sustainable Communities” being held in Bristol, UK on the 6th and 7th December. Developments on this issue will be reported in future editions of ACE Info.
White Paper on Transport Policy Issued
The Commission has launched a public consultation on Europe’s Transport Policy. The White Paper “2010: Time to Decide” is being reviewed with a view to identifying new policy measures for European transport, including urban transport. Questions are asked on the developments in congestion and pollution in cities, the actions of the White Paper that need to be reinforced, whether new actions are added and the priority actions between now and 2010 such as congestion limitation, charging and urban transport. Closing date for the consultation is the 31st December 2005. Further information available at:
Protection of the Environment Through Criminal Law
On the 13th September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a ground-breaking judgement for EU law in general when it decided to annul the Council’s 2003 Framework Decision on the protection of the Environment through criminal law. The ruling will allow the European Commission to strengthen its legislative proposals by introducing criminal sanctions for breaches of EU law. The court case was started after the Council replaced a 2001 European Commission draft directive that would have given the Commission the power to push Member States to punish environmental crimes. As the Member States did not want the Commission to interfere with their criminal law it adopted the Framework Decision that has now been annulled. It is not clear if the 2001 draft directive will be re-introduced, but it is clear that the decision strengthens the powers of the Commission. Further information at:
Plan for Better EU Regulation
The European Commission has presented a three year programme to modernise EU legislation and to cut unnecessary red-tape and over-regulation. The Commission proposes to repeal, codify, recast or modify 222 basic pieces of legislation (in all, more than 1,400 related legal acts) in the next three years. The programme will be regularly updated. The work will kick off with the most heavily regulated sectors such as cars, waste and construction. Other sectors such as foodstuffs, cosmetic, pharmaceuticals or services will follow soon. The Commission intends to tackle administrative burden, especially for small business, by simplifying cumbersome statistics form-filling or by modernising the customs code to facilitate electronic exchange of information.
In the meantime the Commission has decided to abandon 68 draft Directives, and the topic was on the agenda of the Competitiveness Council meeting of 28-29 November.
One aspect of particular importance to the architectural profession is that a review of the Mobile Sites Directive on Safety and Health of workers on construction sites has been announced. It is being conducted by a French organisation and the ACE is seeking ways to be closely involved with this review so as to re-balance the impact of the text on the profession.
Further information on the simplification exercise can be found at:
FIEC, UEPC and European Parliament in Favour of Review of Directive on Reduced Rate of VAT
The Council of Presidents of the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) has taken a clear position in favour of reduced rates of VAT in the European construction industry. Directive 99/85/EC authorising the application of reduced VAT rates in certain labour-intensive sectors is due to come to an end on the 31st December 2005. FIEC estimates that the implementation of the Directive has created about 170,000 permanent jobs in the construction sector alone. Saying that “the application of different VAT levels in the various Member States does not hinder the development of the Internal Market and does not create any distortion of competition” the FIEC is calling on the UK Presidency to step up its efforts to arrive at an agreement on a definitive scheme for reduced rates of VAT at the Ecofin Council on the 6th December.
The FIEC press release can be viewed at:
The Administrative Council of the UEPC (European Union of Developers and House-Builders), meeting on 10 and 11 November in Amsterdam, also gave its support to the European Commission, which has spoken in favour of a reduced rate of VAT for all new housing without distinction and maintaining the very favourable VAT schemes in certain Member States.
On 1st December, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the expiry of Directive 1999/85/EC concerning reduced VAT rates on labour-intensive services.
The EP resolution can be viewed at:
Changes at the top of the European Commission
There has been a re-shuffle at the top of many posts in the European Commission. In order to respect a number of administrative rules including the need to ensure that Directors General are not of the same nationality as that of the responsible Commissioner and that they do not hold the same seat for more than 5 years. The full set of changes can be seen at:
Putting a Price on Sustainability
One of the principal barriers to the wider adoption of more sustainable design and construction solutions is the perception that these incur additional unwanted costs. Evidence collected by Cyril Sweett and the British Research Establishment (BRE) appears to contradict this assumption. The study “Putting a price on sustainability” identifies “quick wins” where major improvements can be made at low cost, and quantifies the costs associated with a range of sustainable solutions for four building types, using BREEAM as a simple measure of performance. See:
L’Observatoire de la Profession d’Architecte 2005
The Conseil national de l’Ordre des architectes in France has published the results of an enquiry carried out for it by the IFOP research institute. The enquiry exposes the way in which architecture is practised in France, and how it is perceived. It is available through the CNOA website where the questionnaire is open for further answers:
Survey of the Regulation of the Engineering Profession in Europe
The European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI) has published the results of a survey that it carried out into the regulation of the engineering profession in Europe. It is published as part of a special edition of FEANI News which can be downloaded at:
Proceedings of PALENC 2005 Published
The book of proceedings of the International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Cooling for the Built Environment (PALENC) that was held on Santorini Island (Greece) in May 2005 has been published. Further information can be found at:
Architecture Research Futures
Organised by the Scottish Matrix for Architecture Research and Knowledge (ScotMARK), this conference will take place in Edinburgh from on the 15th and 16th December 2005. The conference will address subjects such as conceptual models for architectural research, trends and problems in research, architecture research typologies, agenda setting and the way forward. Full details can be found at:
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:
International Competition for the Restructuring of “Residence Palace”
The UIA has announced the winner of this international competition for the future headquarters of the European Council and Council of Ministers of the European Union. The first prize has been awarded to Samyn & Partners (Belgium), Studio Vale Progettazioni (Italy) and Buro Happold (UK). The full results and images of the winning entry can be found at:
European Urban and Regional Planning Awards 2006
The European Council of Town Planners (ECTP) has invited entries for the 2006 awards. Full details on how to enter can be found at:
European Commission homepage
Search page for Commission documents
The Barroso Commission:
Website of the UK Presidency
European Forum for Architectural Policies
Sustainable building website
Collegi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC) international
Consiglio Nazionale degli Architetti, Pianificatori,
Paesaggisti e Conservatori (CNAPPC) database - ArchiEuro:
Website of the European Construction Technology Platform:
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 Commission:
ArchiEuropa website – comparative information on practice
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: Marie-Helene Lucas
The Secretary General of the ACE: Alain Sagne
Senior Advisor to the ACE: Adrian Joyce
ACE Info is issued on a regular basis, with about ten editions issued 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
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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 ENHSA, the UIA, FEANI, the European Services Forum, the CEPMC, FIEC, the Euractiv website (www.euractiv.com) and Bulletin Quotidien Europe.
[email protected] - Comments and contributions welcome