We all hear about the hundreds of EU rules, regulations and directives that spill out of the rule making machine hidden away somewhere in deepest Europe, but it is alarming that not all rules are applied fairly by certain countries.
We recently discovered that non-French tradesmen can’t legally work in France unless they have a French Decennial insurance and siret number. Problem is that only the French artisans can get these documents, unless a disproportionate fee is paid to the government by foreigners for the right to work on a single job. Yes, of course it protects French labour, but is that fair when French tradesmen can go anywhere else in the EU, compete for and secure work without any such penalties?
Portugal doesn’t allow self-building or allow a tradesman from any other EU country to undertake work without a building contractor’s license, granted by INCI. A foreign craftsman can apply for a license, but he must take and pass an examination in Portuguese before he can lay a brick! So effectively, it has debarred all except Portuguese from working in the building industry in Portugal.
Until recently, British architects could not practice in Spain without Spanish qualifications, although German and Argentine architects could. The fact that many Spanish architects were educated in UK to their very high standards, didn’t matter – rules is rules, as they say.
Recently a UK MP was asked why this was allowed and he responded that ‘There is nothing we can do as these are not exactly EU rules they are the laws of the respective countries, and we can’t interfere with those’
Last week our UK office asked us to secure proof for our client, of the volatility of any formaldehyde that may have been used in the adhesive used to bond the plywood that we had supplied, and that it met the relevant EN declaration of compliance. Quite simple we thought, and issued the necessary detail only for it to be returned with a request for compliance under a rule we had no knowledge of. What nobody knew was that a new directive had sneaked in, that nobody knew about, except a very studious little chap in England.
The search began for the elusive documentation but nobody we knew could obtain this information, trade associations, professional institutions, suppliers – all drew a blank. The company that supplied us is a global manufacturer and one of the largest companies in the world, and they had never heard of such a thing and further more, NEVER been asked for any such information from anywhere in Europe. We decided that the best way to resolve this was to introduce the studious little man in UK to the technical director in Canada!
The very complicated Eurocodes for construction in Europe were recently introduced. These are supposedly to unify all types of construction design principles throughout Europe and they actually took over 40 years to write and implement from inception to ratification and yes, you guessed it…………….. only the UK takes any notice of them.
Has anyone else noticed that the European Union may not be our best idea and have you any examples of how each country ‘interprets’ the rules for its own benefit?