EFIC is pleased to share with you the October edition of the EFIC External Newsletter! Don’t miss it!
Who is EFIC and what are its goals? The European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC) is the voice of the Furniture Industries at EU level. EFIC acts as bridge between European policymakers and the furniture industry.
In the EU, the industry employs about 1 million people in approximately 120 thousand enterprises – mostly SMEs and microenterprises – and generates a 96 billion turnover. EFIC was founded in 2006 and now represents more than the 70% of the total turnover of the furniture industries in Europe. You can find out more on the EFIC website & under EFIC priorities!
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Check out our latest EFIC meetings!
The EFIC Board convened in Milan on the occasion of the SuperSalone in September, the first physical meeting in some time
On 7 September EFIC Board members convened in Milan for a meeting hosted by EFIC Italian member FederlegnoArredo on the occasion of the SuperSalone. Members were welcomed by Assarredo and Salone del Mobile President, Maria Porro. The meeting featured special guest Mr. Andrea Di Carlo, Deputy Executive Director at EUIPO, the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
The EFIC membership debated key topics such as the situation of the furniture industries in different Member States in relation to raw materials availability, as well as actions at EU level that can alleviate the negative impact on the industry. The discussion followed on priority files at European level, including circular economy initiatives such as the upcoming Sustainable Products Initiative - which is expected to have a large impact on how furniture will be produced, consumed and discarded in the future - and initiatives related to taxonomy, among others.
Mr. Andrea Di Carlo spoke about the EUIPO Strategic Plan 2020-2025, initiatives in support of SMEs and measures for the protection of furniture design, including the revision of the EU’s legislation on design protection. EFIC members stressed the need to protect furniture products from counterfeiting and the industry from unfair competition.
Did you miss the press release? Check it out on the EFIC website.
EFIC Steering committees
EFIC has recently established a steering committee composed by industrialists, a group of industry representatives who will bring to the EFIC Board valuable first-hand insights from the industry and help further shape the EFIC priorities agenda. The steering committee held its kick-off meeting on 5 July and is fully committed to collaborating closely with the EFIC Board to the benefit of the European furniture industry.
Another steering committee was recently established within EFIC, namely a steering committee on innovation, which will track opportunities to drive innovation in the sector!
EFIC Secretary General gives interview for the German furniture association - VDM's annual report
In May, EFIC German member VDM interviewed Gabriella Kemendi, EFIC Secretary General, for the VDM-annual-report 2021 (available in German, translation by VDM).
Among others, Gabriella Kemendi stressed that 2020 took an unexpected turn with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. There was a general feeling of uncertainty in the industry, which has experienced quite some challenges with the reduced availability of materials and components and with meeting customer demands on time, but also with the reduced availability of workforce and obstacles to the free movement of goods, to name a few.
She stressed that manufacturers should keep an eye on the developments at European and national level via both EFIC and the national federations that are members of EFIC, to be able to adapt their product design and business models as needed for a transition to a circular economy. Collaboration across the industry and the supply chain, including retailers, is also important.
Some of the top challenges for the industry will be to adapt to circularity, facing increasing costs, securing the availability of raw materials at acceptable prices, fluctuating customer demand, finding skilled workers, unfair competition from third countries and counterfeited products.
Save the date!
EU Raw materials week 2021
Save the date! From 15 to 19 November the EU Raw materials week 2021 will take place. The event is organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General responsible for industry. EFIC President, Mr Edi Snaidero, will make an intervention on 16 November (current agenda under development) to speak about circularity with a focus on the electronic product passports.
SABA event – The future of Foam Bonding
Save the date! EFIC Secretary General, Gabriella Kemendi, will speak on 26 October at the event organised by the company SABA on the Future of Foam Bonding. She will focus on the views of the industry on circular economy initiatives and in particular on the role of adhesives in a circular economy. You can register at the event here: https://www.futureoffoambonding.com/
Let us move on to policy dossiers that are importat for the furniture sector under the ‘Circular Economy & Green Deal’ agenda, a busy one at European level
EFIC contributed to a call for feedback on Preliminary recommendations for technical screening criteria for the EU taxonomy by the Platform on Sustainable Finance
The EU taxonomy is a classification system, establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities. Under the Taxonomy Regulation, the European Commission has to come up with a list of environmentally sustainable activities by defining technical screening criteria for each environmental objective established by the Regulation through delegated acts. One of the environmental objectives is the contribution to a circular economy, which will be part of a delegated act for which a proposal is expected later this year / beginning of next year.
In its input to the call for feedback, EFIC provided recommendations to policymakers and urged, among others, to align existing legislation and tools with upcoming initiatives to avoid a contradictory policy framework and to ensure a harmonised legislation and a level playing field, in order to drive companies forward in the transition to circularity.
Upcoming Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI) - EFIC recommendations to policymakers – did you miss it?
You have probably heard of it, but one of the most important policy initiatives at European level that will have an impact on the industry and on how products are produced, consumed and discarded of in the future, is an upcoming proposal for a directive called the Sustainable Products Initiative. Over 2021, EFIC has contributed to several consultations by the European Commission and external consultants, providing recommendations from the industry’s perspective.
In case you missed it, on 9 June EFIC issued a comprehensive position paper in view of the upcoming European Commission's SPI. Do not miss it! It gives recommendations on how the Industry views the widening of the current Ecodesign Directive which is expected to also cover products such as furniture in the future, the introduction of electronic product passports or circular business models.
EFIC invites policymakers to put in place harmonised legislation at EU level and to consult standardisation bodies and the industryin the process. The position paper also invites policymakers to consider the complexity of the furniture value and supply chains and of the product itself. Companies should also be allowed to adapt to the upcoming legislation with flexibility and within a reasonable transition period.
CSIL featured EFIC position on the Sustainable Products Initiative in its latest Markets review
EFIC co-signed industry call for an EU approach to packaging waste labelling
In case you missed it, on 24 June EFIC co-signed a joint industry call for an EU approach to packaging waste labelling together with Europen - the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment - and other organisations in Brussels sharing the same views . The joint initiative calls on the Commission for an EU approach to packaging waste labelling, to ensure harmonisation across the single market.
EFIC recently contributed to a call for feedback on a Commission proposal for General Product Safety Regulation
The proposal for a Regulation will replace the Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety (‘GPSD’). The GPSD is being revised to a) respond to issues related to new technologies and online sales, b) ensure better enforcement of the rules and more efficient and even market surveillance, c) simplify the standardisation process, d) improve the recall of dangerous products in the hands of consumers.
In its contribution, EFIC indicated that the proposed General Product Safety Regulation introduces new requirements compared to the current legislation, which may be positive for a clear overview of responsibilities. However, many of the proposed requirements will be associated with additional administrative procedures and costs, therefore the feasibility and added value of the proposed requirements must be assessed, to ensure that the competitiveness of the furniture industry is preserved.
EFIC recently contributed to a review of European legislation on industrial design protection
Design is an important aspect for the competitiveness of the furniture industries. A legal framework that protects intangible contents such as design is crucial for a general transition to a more sustainable and greener European economy. The European Commission has gathered stakeholder evidence and views to support the review of the Design Directive and the Community Design Regulation to address certain shortcomings that need to be addressed to modernise the legal framework and make it fit for the digital age.
EFIC highlighted the need for a more harmonised framework for the protection of design, to make it more user-friendly, more consistent with current European policies - as the European Green Deal - and more adaptive to the valorisation of the intangible assets given by designs by European entrepreneurs and companies.
EFIC recently contributedto a Commission proposal for a Machinery Regulation
The European Commission has remarked that the current Machinery Directive needs updating to improve safety levels further and take account of the latest IT innovations. As such, the Commission has proposed to convert it to a Regulation which would a) align the Directive with EU harmonised legislation on product health and safety, and b) tackle the challenges that may arise from technical progress in digitisation.
EFIC raised, among others, the fact that some definitions are missing, especially in the context of the circular economy, leading to open questions such as who will bear the responsibility for the safety of a machine.
Joint industry paper on proposal for a Machinery Regulation
On 4 October EFIC co-signed a joint industry statement on priorities for the Machinery Products Regulation together with a coalition of stakeholders sharing the same views on the proposal for a Machinery Regulation. The statement points at the importance that the future legislative framework retains a balance between safety and innovation whilst offering the necessary consistency for manufacturers and users alike.
International trade, Market Access & Trade Barriers
EFIC inputs to consultation on Trade and Technology Council & Transatlantic Green Trade Agenda
The Furniture Industry is strongly oriented towards international trade. EFIC is actively participating in the Market Access Advisory Committee of the European Commission, which holds monthly meetings to discuss and tackle market access barriers with third countries.
The Commission recently opened a call for feedback on trade relations with the US, specifically on a Transatlantic Green Trade Agenda.
On the Trade and Technology Council & Transatlantic Green Trade Agenda EFIC stressed the need to increase EU-US cooperation in the area of green/sustainable trade flows. In EFIC's view, cooperation areas to be prioritised are: (a) Sustainability and standardisation (b) Digitalisation and protection of Intellectual and (c) Property Rights.
EFIC inputs to public consultations
EFIC is a social partner in the Sectoral Social Dialogue for Wood and Furniture, a platform dedicated to discussions on skills needs, health and safety, attractiveness of the industry, among others.
The European Commission wants to hear Social partners views on the functioning of the social dialogue in its current form. On 16 July EFIC submitted input on a Social Partners’ consultation on the revision of the Social Dialogue, including the fact hat the transition of the furniture industries to new developments (increasing circularity of the industry, digitalisation) constitutes a key challenge that should be tackled at sectoral social dialogue level and the fact that sharing best practices to stimulate member states and drive innovation is key to achieve more impact.
EFIC also recently submitted inputs to the Public consultation on upcoming proposal for a Council Recommendation on Education for Environmental Sustainability. The proposal aims to boost policy cooperation and exchange on how education and training can support the move towards a more sustainable and resource-efficient society and economy.
EFIC part of Expert Groups at EU level
Apart from being a social partner at EU level, EFIC is also part of several expert groups and advisory committees at European level.
For example, EFIC attends once a month the Market Access Advisory Committee meeting of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade, which tracks (also via stakeholder input) and puts in place measures to tackle market access barriers. EFIC is also part of the Forest-based industries expert group of the European Commission, which meets once or twice a month to discuss topics close to these industries, such as the EU forest strategy, the Sustainable Products Initiative, the Renovation Wave, the New European Bauhaus, among others.
Ongoing & upcoming initiatives that EFIC is following
COVID-19 responses at EU level
Green Deal & Circular Economy initiatives: Initiatives related to forest-based industries, Sustainable Products Initiative, upcoming initiatives on empowering consumers to the green transition and to substantiate green claims, EU Ecolabel revision, and many others from the broad sustainability agenda of the EU institutions; Member State initiatives on circular economy (e.g. French legislation of 10 February 2020, proposals concerning waste sorting and packaging)…
Social Dialogue (Pact for Skills, European Pillar of Social Rights, Health and Safety framework for 2021-2027, etc.)
Trade & Market Access (EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and negotiations of relevant free trade agreements (Australia, New Zealand, others), market access barriers by third countries, etc.)
Other (proposal for Machinery Regulation, New European Bauhaus Initiative, ECHA restriction on formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing substances in articles, Energy labelling and Ecodesign requirements for light sources and separate control gears, etc.)