The European woodworking and furniture industry is the EU’s fifth largest manufacturing industry. It contributes €219 billion to the economy and generates almost 2 million jobs many of which are in rural or less industrialised areas.
Enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of the European Woodworking Industries (WI) will support stable employment growth and encourage investments into rural or under industrialised communities and in doing so will help to avoid delocalisation. A 4% increase of the total annual European industrial roundwood harvesting and processing would entail increased European value added of €2.35 billion/year; the total increase tax revenues would amount to €405 million/year and at the same time 80,000 new job opportunities a year would be created.
The WI are tackling climate change by storing carbon in Harvested Wood Products and substituting other materials. The production and processing of wood is not only highly energy-efficient and is giving wood products an ultra-low carbon footprint, but wood can often be used to substitute materials requiring large amounts of energy to be produced and suffer higher carbon intensity. The WI contributes to the concept of a Circular Economy by providing renewable alternatives to fossil-based products and energy and is therefore paving the way towards a bio-economy.
While they already embrace the concept of the Circular Economy and offer solutions to environmental problems such as climate change, the EU WI are facing important challenges such as raw materials availability, resource and energy efficiency, logistics, structural adaptation, innovation, research, education, training and skills, international competition, climate policy beyond 2020 and information and communication. Addressing these challenges is a prerequisite to support the role of the WI in the re-industrialization of the EU.
The European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois), the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) and the European Panel Federation (EPF) are aware about this phenomenon and during the working party meeting of the EU Social Dialogue Committee Wood that took place on 11 March 2016, they agreed to undertake a joint project.
Supporting strong WI will create more jobs in Europe. European legislation should attract the WI to invest and produce in Europe, and at the same time give incentives for innovation and technological development, for upgrading skills and competences for the work force, and for providing good and healthy working conditions.