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A word from our President

Kjetil Tonning
A word from our President Kjetil Tonning 

The construction industry in Europe underpins every aspect of our daily lives.  Most of our activities involve contact with the built environment.  As well as being a vast industry in its own right, the industry is increasingly a significant player in the connected world.  Infrastructure and buildings do not exist or operate in isolation.  Moreover, as well as being an essential and ubiquitous physical aspect of our world, the built environment is becoming increasingly plugged in to our digital environment.

This characteristic of our industry is reflected in the way we work as a federation.  Our member federations do not work in isolation and cannot achieve the same results on their own for their members – the contractors – as they can achieve together, working with each other, with the FIEC secretariat at the heart of this collaboration.  Of course, national member federations are guided by policy making and the needs of the industry at national level.  Sometimes this means that our members bring different challenges to the daily business of representing the industry at EU level and this can result in a different emphasis on a particular detail of proposed legislation, for example.  Such differences in national priorities and indeed in individual company priorities could lead to division that can be exploited, against the interests of the industry as a whole.  However, the value of collaboration is that a collective reaction has more impact.  Therefore, at FIEC we spend our time looking for the common ground, not arguing about differences.  This is the key to producing common positions and a stronger voice in the EU institutions.

We take the same approach with other construction industry associations, representing other players in the value chain.  Recent examples of collaboration – even with relevant ministries in Member States show that there is strength in unity.  While there will always be certain details that have to be dealt with by a representative organisation acting alone, because its impact is limited to the immediate member community, active partnership can result in joint positions that are unthinkable without constructive dialogue and the trust and understanding that this creates.

Finally, there is the partnership with our people, which are essential to our industry. In these changing times, even as we see more automation and collaborative robots supporting our workers, people will always be at the centre of construction.  Education is vital to ensure that our workforce is able to adapt to digitalisation and far from being a threat, we see many benefits for the current workforce, as their jobs will become less repetitive and physically demanding. For our future workforce, we see a more attractive industry that will be exciting and enjoyable for young people, making it a more likely career choice for both young men and women.

These are my key goals during my Presidency:  

FIEC’s ongoing and expanding collaboration, within and outside our member community, with the EU policy makers and other stakeholders, built on dialogue, trust, patience and mutual respect

FIEC’s focus on people, skills, health and safety, better working conditions and attracting and keeping talent.

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