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Standards in construction: the Eurocodes

The Eurocodes are standards for the construction sector which aim to increase the safety of buildings in the face of natural and man-made hazards. The JRC supports their design, monitors their implementation and contributes to organising practical...

The construction and construction products sector is crucial for the European economy, representing approximately 10% of the EU GDP and providing 20 million jobs. Construction also represents a key component in the quality of life of citizens, as they spend a considerable amount of time in buildings and other built infrastructures.

Under the presence of natural and man-made hazards, citizens’ welfare depends on the performance of the structures that surround them. The availability of European advanced codes, the Eurocodes, a set of European standards for the design of buildings and other civil engineering works, is a starting condition for risk reduction and harmonisation in construction.

The Eurocodes play a key role in the European Commission's strategy to make European construction companies more competitive, both within the EU and on the global market. The JRC has contributed significantly in bringing the Eurocodes to their present stage and is now supporting their national implementation, harmonisation, international promotion and further development.

Implementation of the Eurocodes

The Eurocodes have reached the final stage of national implementation by the member states as they are now replacing all national standards, providing common technical rules for the design of buildings and other civil engineering works and construction products. Further, they are meant to lead to more uniform levels of safety in construction in Europe.

The JRC is providing IT support for the implementation of these standards.

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A dedicated Website on the Eurocodes has been developed and a Centralised Eurocodes Helpdesk has been created.

The JRC is also monitoring the use of Eurocodes in EU member states by developing and managing the database of the Nationally Determined Parameters (NDPs), i.e. those values related to regulatory safety matters determined at a national level.

Another important aspect for a smooth implementation of the Eurocodes is the development and maintenance of a Eurocodes publications database and the support to training on the use of the Eurocodes. The JRC, together with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN/TC250), the Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission and other relevant partners is organising European training workshops and publishes and disseminates training material.

Further harmonization of the Eurocodes

The Eurocodes are the result of a long procedure of bringing together and harmonizing the different design traditions in the member states. In the same time, the member states keep exclusive competence and responsibility for the levels of safety of works, while the national application of the Eurocodes requires some flexibility.

The JRC is engaged in the process of further harmonization of the Eurocodes.

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The Eurocodes include Nationally Determined Parameters, which:

  • take into account differences in geographical, geological or climatic conditions;
  • result from different design cultures and procedures for structural analysis;
  • arise from the requirement for safety levels in member states.

Member states are encouraged to harmonize their choices with the recommended values supplied by the Eurocodes (harmonization across national borders), but also the methodologies used for their assessment, as well as the design procedures used for different structures, in order to contribute to the gradual alignment of safety levels across Europe and to the free circulation of construction products and engineering services.

The NDPs Database, developed and managed by the JRC, acts as a platform of notification to the European Commission by the member states on the adopted values of the NDPs and constitutes the basis for their analysis, contributing to the definition of strategies tending to achieve further harmonization of the Eurocodes, through collaboration within CEN/TC250, national authorities, international technical/scientific organizations and industry.

A preliminary analysis of the NDPs already uploaded in the database found few divergences from the recommended values, indicating a tendency for their acceptance, which facilitates the process of harmonization of the national choices and the reduction of the number of the NDPs in the next generation of Eurocodes.

Promotion of the Eurocodes outside EU-EFTA

There is a considerable interest in the use of the Eurocodes outside EU by countries:

  • whose national standards are based on European national standards that will soon be withdrawn;
  • who want to update their national standards based on technically advanced codes;
  • who are interested in trading with the European Union and EFTA member states.

The JRC is pursuing the objective of promoting the Eurocodes, and therefore the EU construction sector, at an international level.

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In detail, the JRC is:

  • organizing workshops to foster the implementation of the Eurocodes outside of the EU;
  • raising awareness and promoting the advantages of European standards;
  • contributing to the bilateral regulatory/policy dialogues between the EU and third countries, as well as to the relevant chapters of free trade agreements under negotiation.

Further development of the Eurocodes

In 2010 and 2012, respectively, the Enterprise and Industry Directorate General of the European Commission issued the mandates M/466 EN and M/515 EN to CEN concerning the process of further evolution of the Structural Eurocodes aiming at the publication of the second generation of the Eurocodes.

The JRC is contributing to the development of the second generation of the Eurocodes.

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Among the guiding principles of the projects to be developed, further harmonisation of the Eurocodes is aimed at through minimizing the number of the NDPs.

The assessment of the variations of the NDPs adopted in the first generation of the Eurocodes and of the potential to significantly reduce their number is being done in close collaboration with the JRC (see Further Harmonization of the Eurocodes).

Furthermore, the JRC is fostering and supporting the development of interoperable European standards, extending from the field of safety into other fields such as health, energy efficiency and sustainability. Pre-normative research on the second generation of the Eurocodes and the implications of climate change on structural design are being addressed by the JRC.

More information: EUROCODES

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Crane and building under construction.

Crane and building under construction.

Standards in construction: the Eurocodes