Ráðstefna um byggingarstaðla, 09.10.00 -


Valgerður Sverrisdóttir,
iðnaðar- og viðskiptaráðherra

Evrópsk ráðstefna um byggingarstaðla,
Hótel Saga, 9. október 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen:
The construction industry in Iceland is an important sector of our economy. The buildings that we use today for economical purposes have almost all been build during this twentieth century. This has led to that over 60% of our annual investments are in the construction sector. In addition to this about 80 % of the national wealth is to be found in buildings and other constructions.

Based on this the importance of good construction standards and building regulations should be obvious and - international co-operation: - a key factor. It goes without saying that the Icelanders have gained great benefits from the international co-operation in the field of construction, - but our geographical location and climatic conditions require special consideration when it comes to adopting international guidelines or requirements. The reason for that is our location here, - on this volcanic island, - in the North Atlantic - which is much more demanding on buildings than most people can imagine - and in many ways also much milder on the population than many would belief.

Standardization is a tool to remove barriers to trade. The general thought is that when products confirm to European standards - they have obtained a passport to travel all over Europe and can be used by consumers as they wish. This simple fact is much more important to a small economy as ours that to the bigger nations, - for the simple reason that the small have so much to gain from the experience and expertise of the bigger ones. In this respect one should, however, not forget that the smaller participants can also be important contributors in the co-operation.

Construction products are special as we see them here in Iceland. Our buildings have to withstand high wind loads, driving rain conditions, freeze-thaw cycles from September to May and high earthquake loads.

When it comes to heating systems and water supply piping we have several different types of water with all sorts of corrosion problems. Passports are fine with us as long as their holders have the right features to survive in our environment. We rely on our engineers to design our construction properly and select all the right materials to survive during an economically reasonable life.

My ministry the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is responsible for the implementation of the Construction Products Directive here in Iceland. All matters related to the directive such as market surveillance and notification of approved bodies are the responsibility of the ministry.

On the other hand, the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the Building Regulation and all related matters including coordination of the work of the local building officials. Here in Iceland, two ministries therefore issue regulations regarding construction.

I and the officials of my ministry are aware of the important role CEN and EOTA play in making the Directive operative. We congratulate CEN on the adoption of the harmonized European standard for cement and hope several others will follow in the near future. CE-marking of
construction products has started, I hope all consumers will benefit.

I have noted with great pleasure that over 80 persons from 18 different countries participate in the Conference. I welcome all of you to Iceland and hope the "CEN Construction Sector Network Conference 2000 - Construction Standards for the next 10 years" will be successful. I wish you a pleasant stay here in Iceland.

Ladies and gentlemen - with these few words I declare this conference open.

Thank you.


Valgerður Sverrisdóttir