The strategy of CEN/TC250 for the future of the Eurocodes

by Jean-Armand Calgaro, former Chairman of CEN/TC250

Jean-Armand Calgaro, Chairman of CEN/TC250 The Eurocodes reflect a new universal technical culture in civil engineering. The transparency of their safety concepts and of their fundamental requirements, the scientific quality of their design rules and their flexible conditions of use will liberate innovation in construction. Undoubtedly, they will play a vital role in the development of the built and social environment.

All Eurocode parts are available since mid-2007 and their full implementation in EU and EFTA Member States is scheduled for 2010. The next step for CEN/TC250, in close co-operation with the JRC, is to enter into maintenance, promotion, further harmonisation and further development of the Eurocodes, following the approach outlined in the "Medium-term strategy plan" white book.

As the 58 parts, circa 5000 pages, are being implemented in the Member States, issues of linguistic and technical misinterpretations arise. Feedback from the users highlights inconsistencies within the parts and with product standards. Therefore, maintenance of the Eurocodes cannot be reduced to the correction of mistakes and errors. It appears to be a new technical and transparent activity that will evolve according to the agreed internal policy of CEN/TC250.

Many countries outside the EU refer regularly to European standards in their public tenders, while others seek assistance in revising their current or drafting their future structural design codes. CEN/TC250 and JRC together aim to better coordinate all actions concerning the promotion of the European technical culture in civil engineering, so as to facilitate trade and to support the European construction industry in the world market.

The Eurocodes contain approximately 1500 parameters that are open for national choice, or adoption of the recommended value. CEN/TC250 believes that further harmonisation is essential for the evolution of the Eurocodes. Consequently, the work being achieved by the JRC on the grounds of comparative studies of the selected approaches, detailed evaluation of the adopted recommended values and expert analysis of the deviations will lead to the proposal of a limited number of nationally determined parameters.

With a view to further development of the Eurocodes, research efforts will concentrate on new materials and new fields of design. Furthermore, the next generation of Eurocodes should incorporate additional demands of modern societies, such as sustainability, as portrayed in the requirement for "sustainable use of natural resources" of the future European regulation for construction products.

All issues related to the Eurocodes are covered in detail in this website, which also hosts the CEN/TC250 newsletter. The aim of the newsletter is to disseminate information and to become a tool for communication with industry and the profession. It will be issued regularly and will be published on the Eurocodes website.

Altogether a huge workload is necessary to uphold the Eurocodes as the most advanced codes for the design of civil engineering works. CEN/TC250 is following a structured work programme, in which cooperation with other CEN technical committees, with the JRC and with international technical and scientific organisations is fundamental. CEN/TC250 invites also the Directorate General Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission to bring a full support to the achievement of our common goals.

29 January 2009