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Unique interview with Enrico Prandini, president of CECE

Enrico Prandini, president of CECE, at EU Industry Days
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Enrico Prandini, president of CECE, at EU Industry Days

LECTURA Press brings a unique interview with Enrico Prandini, President of CECE and Managing Director of Komatsu Italia, involving the presidency, EU elections, Italian construction equipment status, CECE Summit 2019 and more.

How would you evaluate your two-year presidency of CECE? Are you fully satisfied, or do you admit any unfulfilled goals?

After two years of holding the CECE Presidency, I have seen an important further evolution in the internal set-up of CECE. We have worked towards an even larger focus on advocacy and communications in support of the key technical dossiers. This has increased the awareness of the construction equipment sector among EU policy makers in Brussels and other decision and opinion leaders, strengthening CECE to optimally represent sector’s interests.

Fostering visibility and political recognition for the construction equipment sector was one of my main priorities. This was especially important in view of the European elections that took place recently and the nomination of new European Commission. We should seize the opportunity to gain more attention and impact. With the help of CECE members and dedication of the Brussels team, I was able to promote the idea of a fair competition and free trade for all market players in Europe.

The proposal for EU harmonised road circulation requirements is one of the most precious topics for the sector and very dear to me for its importance. Together with CECE I have been pushing for this proposal to be finalised. It is a shame not to see it come to fruition, however I am happy to hand over this file to my successor Niklas Nillroth.

What is your opinion on the European Parliament 2019 elections results?

The results of the elections gave us a deeply renovated European Parliament, with over 60% of MEPs at their first mandate. The change in voting is also shifting the balance of power and the need to form new alliances for the stability of the European Commission. On the other hand, the foreseen push by Eurosceptic forces has been slowed down and is proving to be a less important factor in the next 5 years.

I believe this is the moment for the European industry to raise the ambition for a new EU industrial agenda. I am glad that CECE was an active player in this process. As one of the first sectoral organisations, CECE has published its European Elections Manifesto, where we outlined the concrete policy suggestions for the EU legislative term. We firmly believe that the challenges for the EU industry over the next five years will be crucial and can only be tackled with a joint effort between industry and EU institutions.

The European construction machinery sector is at the centre of the global marketplace. This has been and continues to be a great added value for a competitive and innovative industry like CECE’s, whose members manufacture 20% of the global output of construction equipment. At the same time, such global integration sometimes turns out to be a source of challenges, considering fierce competition from other global players supported by strong national Industrial Policy strategies and booming infrastructure projects. For this reason, we believe in and we need a European Union that implements the values of global rule-based trade, insisting on the application of principles such as fair competition, reciprocity and openness.

One of your main goals during your presidency is to build customer loyalty through a common vision. How successful has this project been so far?

Building customer loyalty through a common vision is one of the key success-factors for the industry to be competitive and future-proof. Technological change, skills shortage and challenges rising from digital construction need to be tackled together along the value chain. In 2018, CECE has established a strong dialogue with representatives from the construction value chain. Building firm cooperation was shown during the CECE Congress 2018 where the value chain met together to discuss the common vision of the sector.

Also, recently, this philosophy continued to animate my leadership in the work of CECE with a join request by all the value chain representatives in Brussels asking the European Commission to continue the strategic work done for the whole construction industry with the Construction 2050 Strategy. 

What stage is the harmonization of non-road emission regulation at?

We are at stage V of the harmonisation in Europe which is the cleanest stage worldwide. Manufacturers are doing big efforts to implement the new regulation to the broad variety of their products, however the lack of incentives to renew the fleets is a big issue. CECE campaigns make such incentives available to our clients and include positive factors in awarding public tenders to companies using more sustainable machinery.

You are also the managing director of Komatsu Italia. What is the status of Italian construction equipment regarding the global competitiveness?

According to CECE’s Italian member association UNACEA, of which I am the Vice-President, the Italian market of construction equipment continues its growth. As you can read in the CECE Annual Economic Report 2019 available on CECE’s website, both the construction equipment and earthmoving equipment sales in Italy increased by 16% in the first quarter of the year. Road equipment sales went up by 2%, exports increased by 6% (€2.7 billion) and imports by 9% (€959 million), however the market is still 50% below pre-crisis levels.

The main topic of the 2019 CECE Summit, sponsored by LECTURA, is ‘From bricks to bytes.’ What are the main challenges ahead of the digital transformation of the construction equipment?

The European construction equipment industry is confidently looking towards the future and is ready to embrace the transition into the digital era, with a stronger-than-ever focus on technology leadership and customer needs. Addressing lack of business-friendly regulatory framework, shortage in digital construction skills and lack of political lead on digital construction from the European Union are the key tasks for CECE.

We call for strong political leadership from the EU, an appropriate regulatory framework on data policy and budgetary focus on digital skills, R&D and IT infrastructure. We need to remember that digitalisation is not the goal in itself, but a key enabler for the construction industry. I invite you to read a very interesting study conducted by a research company contracted by CECE on unlocking the potential of data with a value chain approach, available on CECE’s website.

What is your favourite piece of construction equipment and why?

It is a difficult question; it is as if you would ask a father which kid he prefers... Each machine model has its own personality and it has been designed and developed with the specific purpose to give a solution to the customer.

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Company overview

CECE - Committee for European Construction Equipment is an organization which promotes, represents and coordinates the European construction equipment and related industries. The company also strives to harmonize the standards and regulations thus to maintain a fair competitive environment. Overall, CECE represents the interest of national construction equipment manufacturer associations in 13 European countries (incl. DE, UK, FR, IT, RU, TK). The whole sector consists of approximately 1200 companies with 300,000 employees.

Source: LECTURA Verlag GmbH; Patrik Eder