CE marking of construction products is a European certification system that enforces environmental standards. The main EU law on these important aspects of construction is Regulation (EU) 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 9, 2011.
As such, it was incorporated into Maltese law years ago.
All concrete precast products, asphalt mixes and materials from local limestone quarries are subject to this regulation.
Why is it a case of shock therapy? The country is in a state of shock, having witnessed a series of collapsing buildings and people being displaced from their homes. The resultant ‘therapy’ is hopefully on the way with a national realisation that it is urgent to rectify things for the long term.
Among the various factors in the equation, but no doubt a big factor, is the safety or otherwise of the construction materials being used, particularly (but not only) in the many high-rise buildings under construction and planned.
There are about 50 Maltese construction companies which should have their products and materials CE marked. It is a law written to protect all of us, but also to safeguard the very developers, contractors and architects from future huge damage claims.
And yet, none of the producers seem to comply, bar maybe some remote exception. They seem to be unwilling to spend money to have a notified body (an EU-certified CE auditing firm) to inspect the parameters and survey the company’s construction products. Up till now, let us admit, nobody has cared, and enforcement was not on the cards. But as time goes by, with more attention given to the vital importance of product quality due to the radical high-rise development policy, foreign companies bidding for government projects and the increasing number of construction-related accidents, the pressure is mounting.
What does it take to realise that rules in the construction sector should be followed? To have somebody brave to shed the light? To wait until bigger disasters happen? To wait until EU auditors, as well as the EU Commission and the European Council, will start asking why these EU laws are not complied with, especially on EU-funded projects?
If there is a law about CE marking (a very popular and respected law protecting people) in the European Union, it means that Malta has it too. If this law was transposed into the Maltese legal system almost 10 years ago, it was not only by obligation, but because Malta recognised its validity.
If valid 10 years ago, it is valid much more now. A reality check of the situation, even in this sector of the construction regulation kaleidoscope, is needed.
One should ask their local supplier of concrete blocks. Are products CE marked? One should look at the website, which is legally bound to indicate that relevant products are CE marked. One should ask their architect if they have specified CE marking as a ‘must’ on products for a project. Even at the grassroots level, we can be agents for change.
Perhaps the recent collapse of various structures is the ‘shock therapy’ Malta needed in order to come to its senses and to finally regulate the quality of the construction materials being locally produced.
Apart from the commendable process by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and various public and private bodies currently reviewing and streamlining the mess of the many regulations and seeking proper enforcement of building standards in general, Malta needs committed and qualified agents for change.
The Kamra tal-Periti (Chamber of Architects) is one such worthy agent. Well done.
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