Wood industry will drive EU growth

Published:  30 September, 2014

Bodies from across the European wood industry are calling on Members of the European Parliament to develop a clear framework of actions and priorities to support growth in the sector.

The industry has set a target to increase its total annual output by 4%, which it says will boost the EU economy by 2.35bn euros every year, creating 80,000 new jobs by 2020.

It is claimed that the projected growth will also support the EU in meeting its climate change targets, reducing CO2 emissions by 150m tonnes every year.

The call is being led by the European Panel Federation (EPF), the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS), and The European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI BOIS).

During a two-day event at the European Parliament in Brussels on 22 September, the group unveiled a manifesto which they believe will lay the foundation for collaboration in the next five years.

Key policy recommendations included encouraging the increased use of wood in construction, prolonging the life cycle of wood and optimising the use of wood to foster a resource-efficient bio-based economy, as well as re-organising incentives to improve the total supply of wood as a raw material.

Alastair Kerr, director general of the UK-based Wood Panel Industries Federation, is chair of the event steering committee. He said: “The wood sector has the potential to jumpstart growth in Europe and support the EU in meeting CO2 reduction targets.

“However it is vital that we have the backing of MEPs to define a clear framework of actions and priorities to allow the sector to develop and contribute to European industry.

“Wood is naturally renewable, re-usable and recyclable, and can be used for a multitude of applications that have both environmental and economic advantages.

“We are therefore calling upon the EU institutions to encourage the increased use of wood products, particularly in construction, as a means to mitigate climate change and encourage member states to implement ‘wood first’ policies.

“Further to this, there is a need to elaborate upon a European strategy that targets the higher mobilisation and efficient use of wood across all sectors.”

Mr Kerr added that MEPs will also be urged to argue for the refocusing of renewables subsidies. He said: “While we support specific, selected fractions of woody biomass as a source of renewable energy, subsidies and promotion measures applied to bio-energy production should not distort the wood markets by giving energy producers an unfair advantage in the procurement of wood that could also be suitable for material use.

“Recent environmental studies have also demonstrated that the initial premise that burning wood biomass was ‘neutral’ is a flawed argument.

“We have been making this case to energy decision makers for a number of years and are now calling upon governments across Europe to review their policies towards these distorting and environmentally damaging subsidies, which lead to increased wood costs and jeopardise the competitiveness of Europe’s woodworking industries.”

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