Newsletter – Spring Meeting 2024

Dear Member,

Inside this newsletter, we’ve wrapped up our Spring Meeting highlights. Discover insights into the latest developments in the sawmill and construction sectors, and explore expert analyses and future outlooks from industry leaders.

Kind regards,
Erik Karlsson

European Institute for Wood Preservation

The spring meeting was held at the Novotel Hotel Tour Noire in a charming area of Brussels, with both pleasant and efficient arrangements. A total of 46 delegates actively took part in the program and social activities. A pleasant dinner at the Brasserie Surréaliste allowed everyone to enjoy a nice meal and conversation after a day full of activities. This dinner was a nice addition to the event.

Spring meeting program on Wednesday

The first day was totally devoted to the presentation and discussion of the advocacy project and the Roadmap Treated Wood For Decarbonisation. The presentations and discussions were led by Willie Clason, Federico Chiarva, Arno van Oosten, Fredrik Westin and Ralf Schulz.

  1. Background, why and how
  2. Engagement of EPPA in competition
  3. Advocacy task group
  4. Treated wood for decarbonisation: EU Public Affairs, Strategy & Action Plan:
    • Situation: 2024, a year of political changes in the EU
    • Treated wood for decarbonisation: our political influence strategy
    • Current and future activities
  5. Details of three of the priority reforms: Recommendations
    • Reco 1 Federico Chiarva
    • Reco 2 Fredrik Westin
    • Reco 4 Arno van Oosten
  6. Discussion and Q&A

You can find the combined presentation on Advocacy here

Spring meeting program on Thursday

Mr Diego Benedetti, economic director at the European Sawmill Organisation, shared his insights on the European sawn softwood market.

After a couple of positive years, 2023 was difficult for the sawmill industry. This is connected to the challenges in the construction markets. For the sawmill industry construction markets are key as over 50% of the products are utilized directly in the construction sector, and some other segments (parquet, furniture) are strongly connected to the performance of construction markets.

He claims that the sawmilling sector is in a ‘perfect storm’ as there is high inflation that led to massively increased interest rates and mortgage rates and a depressing demand in the construction sector. At the same time raw material prices spiraled further reducing demand.

Sawmills have eased production to meet subdued demand. Having peaked in 2021, the development of softwood production and consumption suggests that in 2023 overall production will have reduced by 8% in Europe and consumption by around 11% compared with 2022.

At the same time, costs for sawmills remain high. Logs prices reached record levels. Energy and personnel costs are high too. He closed his presentation with an outlook for 2024 and beyond.

He believes that there are signs of ‘green shoots’ in the market and that in the second half of 2024 demand will turn more favourable for the sector. Wood is a key product to decarbonise the economy and we look at the future with hope. But at the same time, geopolitical and economic challenges abound: bringing down inflation consistently and sustainably (“soft landing”), war in Ukraine, Middle East, tension China-Taiwan, cargo tensions in Red Sea, elections in EU, US and UK in 2024 make it difficult to predict a real turnaround before 2025.

You can find the presentation from Mr Diego Benedetti here

Mr Claudiu Sonda, policy officer at CEI-Bois, briefed the participants on the ongoing revision process of the European Construction Products Regulation.

This revision started in March 2022 with a proposal from the EU Commission and is now nearing its final phase. He anticipates that the EU Parliament will vote positively on the agreement reached. This will lead to formal adoption by summer 2024.

He elaborates on the objectives of the revision that should lead to a more efficient functioning of the internal market and at the same time lead the green and digital transition by preventing and reducing the environmental impact of construction products.

You can find the presentation from Mr Claudiu Sonda here

Dr Ramunas Digaitis closed the Thursday session with a presentation on the research project that the Danish Technological Institute is running since 2000 on natural durability of wood exposed above ground.

He presented the details on the performance of a number of common softwood and hardwood species in different exposure scenarios.

You can find the presentation from Dr Ramunas Digatis here

Mr Willie Clason continued on the Construction Products Regulation with a focus on the impact for the standardization of building products.

Due to some legal cases before the European Court of Justice and the subsequent legal uncertainty, no progress has been made in the Technical Committees of CEN. This standstill has led to 85% of CEN standards developed since 1989 are now outdated. CEN TC 124, responsible for the standards on timber structures, is resuming preparatory work for revision of the harmonized standards under TC 124.

You can find the presentation from Mr Willie Clason here

Mr Fredrik Westin continued with a update from the CEN/TC38 on wood durability

A brief update from the CEN/TC38 and the new secretariat held by SIS. There is a request for a standard for “Reference Service Life” of wood and treated wood. An update on the latest news on revision of the CEN EN350 on natural durability.

You can find the presentation from Mr Fredrik Westin here

Invitation to Ghent

Gilbert Leyens invited us to Ghent and reminded us to save the date for the WEI Annual Congress in Ghent, Belgium, from September 5-7, 2024. Anticipate engaging discussions, networking, and industry insights. Beyond the conference, enjoy activities like guided tours, boat trips, and visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites and renowned museums.

Read more about Ghent and view pictures of the city in the presentation here

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