Ar C.J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller – International Expert on Sustainability Implementation + Accessibility-for-All + Fire Safety for All + Sustainable Fire Engineering
2020-09-08: Ignoring Britain’s silly sabre-rattling, toothless threats and boorish blackmail attempts reported in the Media during this past weekend, yesterday and today … the actual state of play in the tortuous Brexit Negotiations can best be judged from the following sources …
Michel Barnier’s Presentation to the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA), on 2 September 2020 … View it Here on YouTube
This is the European Union (EU), a Single Market of approximately 450 Million consumers. The EU operates under the freedoms and protections of Codified / Written Law, i.e. EU Treaties ratified by all of the EU Member States, EU Secondary Legislation (Regulations and Directives), and EU Administrative Provisions.
A suite of EU Regulations and Directives covers Industrial Products. While there is some flexibility with regard to how Directives are implemented at national level in the Member States, no such flexibility exists with Regulations. Construction Products can only be placed on the EU Single Market if they can be shown to comply with the requirements of the EU’s Construction Products Regulation (CPR) Framework, or in other words, be shown to be ‘fit for their intended use’ in the European Union …
BREXIT ~ IMPLICATIONS FOR THE BRITISH FIRE INDUSTRY
Trade ‘No Deal’ or ‘Minimal Deal’ … from 1 January 2021, Great Britain will be completely outside the European Single Market, and the EU’s Construction Products Regulation Framework. The designation ‘Notified Body’ under that Framework will fall away from British Organizations. Construction Products/Systems manufactured in, or supplied from, Britain will then have to undergo an entirely new EU Testing and Approvals Programme in order to access the European Single Market. Fire Safety related Construction Products will have to be tested, and assessed or appraised, against all 7 Basic Requirements for Buildings together, during the same period of time (see Annex I, EU Regulation 305/2011) …
Mechanical Resistance and Stability
Safety in Case of Fire
Hygiene, Health and the Environment
Safety and Accessibility in Use
Protection against Noise
Energy Economy and Heat Retention
Sustainable Use of Natural Resources
… a process which will be very interesting to observe, since the Fire Industry (particularly England’s Fire Establishment, AHJ’s, etc) dislikes, with intensity, the whole idea of ‘environmental impact’ … the concept of ‘sustainable development’ is hardly understood … and no consideration is given to the reasonable fire safety and accessibility needs of ‘vulnerable building users’ (including people with activity limitations, refugees, migrants, etc).
The tragic 2017 Grenfell Tower Fire, and its sad aftermath, have demonstrated how dysfunctional, and rotten to the core, is the whole national system of Building Fire Safety in England. More than 3 years later … on the evidence to date of an ongoing, incompetent Inquiry and a series of shoddy responses from Government … will survivors and the victims’ families ever receive Justice, and find Peace ? cf. The 1981 Stardust Discotheque Fire in Dublin. Survivors and victims’ families are still waiting for the truth to be revealed.
In parallel, mutual recognition of British Professional Building Designers, e.g. Architects, Structural Engineers, Fire Engineers, etc., within the European Union will cease.
In parallel, British Fire Research involvement in EU Research Networks will also cease … unless a heavy price is paid to be involved as a 3rd Country. British Institutions should forget any notions they might have about Network Leadership.
In parallel, Information and Data Flows between Britain and the EU will be disrupted or cease altogether … unless Britain complies fully with the requirements of EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016/679. As a vassal state of the USA, this compliance may prove difficult for Britain !
EU Fire Safety Related Product/System Manufacturers ~ A Word of Caution !
Many EU Construction Product/System Manufacturers continue to use the services provided by British Fire Test Laboratories and/or Fire Consultancy Organizations located in Great Britain … some of which have already established EU-based dummy companies and letterheads. These British organizations must be avoided altogether. For example, the practice of fire testing in England and later adding a title page of a Full Test Report with an EU location address is entirely unacceptable !
2010-12-22:November & December 2010 … when the shit really started to hit the international economic fan ! … there has been an excess of hysterical nonsense in the Irish Media concerning growing European Union (EU) Economic Governance … and a perceived erosion of Irish National Sovereignty. How sad ?!?
Economic Environment … the intricate web of real and virtual human commercial activity – operating at micro and macro-economic levels – which facilitates, supports, but sometimes hampers or disrupts, human interaction in the Social Environment.
Social Environment … the complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.
However, let me sketch out an altogether different and much more positive picture !
Thesis – My Argument
[During 2009, I first raised this issue in meetings of the IIEA (Institute of International & European Affairs) Economists’ Group, in Dublin.]
Towards the end of 2010 … we can now see that Inter-Governmental Economic Governance in the European Union has failed … miserably. This has not only destabilized the EuroZone … but the entire European Union, itself, as a political entity … and will continue to do so … until Economic Governance is brought much closer to, and fully within, the Community Method … which is a lengthy and complex process.
Back in 2009, however, when the Financial Markets were not in such a mad frenzy … it would have been natural to imagine that an interim stage in this process would most probably be to adopt an Open Method of Co-Ordination. This is no longer an option … being too little, too late, to calm the Markets.
Throughout this process of reform, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the National Central Banks can, and must, retain their independence … as legally mandated in European Union Primary Legislation, i.e. the Treaties.
Three Concerns I have had for some time …
– Economists don’t know the Community Method from the Rhythm Method, and they are ill-equipped to deal with matters of Mainstream European Union Institutional Reform ;
– The use of Economic Performance Indicators in the EU Stability & Growth Pact is simplistic and crude … and, therefore, very problematic ;
– Economic Performance Indicators must be improved … qualitatively … and be mainstreamed in considerations, and the implementation, of Sustainable Human & Social Development … as legally mandated in the EU Treaties.
Mr. Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic & Monetary Affairs recently delivered a speech at the Institute of International & European Affairs, in Dublin …
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (39kb)
However … instead of trying to desperately backfill the holes and gaps in the current, failed Inter-Governmental Method of Economic Governance in the European Union … Commissioner Rehn should be clearly identifying the proper target as the Community Method of Economic Governance … and plotting an appropriate course to reach that target … as soon as practicable !
This is a useful background document … and includes a lot of information about the EU Stability & Growth Pact …
European Commission & General Secretariat of the EU Council
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (2.66 Mb)
Since Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 … after 10 years of accession negotiations ! … an ‘informed’ view of European Integration has always been that the different Countries are pooling their national sovereignty, in an expanding range of specific areas, for the greater benefit of all their citizens. This has certainly been the experience of Ireland. And … let us also not forget that Irish Politicians and Senior Civil Servants have participated directly – at all stages – in the development of the EMU Legal & Political Texts listed. There is no such thing as a Domineering ‘Brussels’ Big Brother !
This is the most recent update of the EuroZone’s Economic Performance Indicators …
European Commission, Directorate-General for Economic & Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN)
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (360kb)
It is now widely acknowledged that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is neither a reliable nor an adequate indicator of Sustainable Human & Social Development. But … that is another story … for another day !
Community & Inter-Governmental Methods of Governance
The Community Method is the expression used for the most common and effective operating and decision-making mode of institutions in the European Union. It proceeds from an integration logic, with due respect for the subsidiarity principle … and has the following salient features:
European Commission monopoly of the Right of Initiative, with a strong monitoring role in implementation ;
should consensus not be achieved, widespread use of Qualified Majority Voting in the Council of the European Union ;
an active, participatory role for the European Parliament ;
uniform interpretation of EU Law by the Court of Justice.
In contrast to the … Inter-Governmental Method … which proceeds from an inter-governmental logic of co-operation between EU Member States … to a large extent outside the institutional framework of the European Union … and has the following salient features:
the European Commission’s Right of Initiative is shared with the Member States or confined to specific areas of activity … with little, if any, monitoring role for the Commission in implementation ;
the Council of the European Union generally acts unanimously … and unilaterally ;
the European Parliament has merely a consultative role ;
the Court of Justice plays only a minor role.
Open Method of Co-Ordination
The Open Method of Co-Ordination (OMC) developed as an instrument of the 2000 Lisbon Strategy, and provided a new framework for co-operation between the EU Member States, whose national policies could thus be directed towards certain common objectives.
Under this method of governance, the Member States are evaluated by one another (peer pressure), with the European Commission’s role being limited to ‘lite’ surveillance. The European Parliament and the Court of Justice play virtually no part in the OMC process.
The Open Method of Co-Ordination takes place in policy areas which fall within the competence of the Member States … such as employment, social protection, social inclusion, education, youth and training.
It is based principally on:
jointly identifying and defining objectives to be achieved (adopted by the Council of the European Union) ;
jointly established measuring instruments (statistics, indicators, guidelines) ;
benchmarking, i.e. comparison of the Member States’ performance and exchange of best practices (oversight by the European Commission).
Depending on the areas concerned, the OMC involves so-called ‘Soft Law’ Measures which are binding on the Member States to varying degrees but which never take the form of ‘Hard Law’ Directives, Regulations or Decisions. Thus, in the context of the Lisbon Strategy, the OMC required the Member States to draw up national reform plans and to submit them to the European Commission.
Ireland’s National Sovereignty in 2010/2011 ?
On a beautiful sunny day, this past autumn … I again visited Arbour Hill Cemetery in Dublin … the last resting place for many Executed Leaders of the 1916 Revolution … an event which finally initiated an irrevocable process of terminating a prolonged period of barbaric external imperial domination and cultural cleansing of the indigenous population …
On the wall behind the graves … the 1916 Proclamation of Independence is inscribed in the Irish Language, and also in English …
Poblacht na hEíreann
THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC
TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND
IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
Having organized and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organization, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organizations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty: six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.
Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.
We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.
Signed on Behalf of the Provisional Government,
THOMAS J. CLARKE,
SEAN Mac DIARMADA, THOMAS Mac DONAGH,
P. H. PEARSE, EAMONN CEANNT,
JAMES CONNOLLY, JOSEPH PLUNKETT.
As We Approach the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Revolution …Ireland has failed to implement and foster the social values so eloquently elaborated in the 1916 Proclamation of Independence … widespread, deeply ingrained corruption infects our economic environment … and the institutions of national governance are dysfunctional and no longer ‘fit for purpose’ … while individuals within those institutions rise in rank according to their own natural level of incompetence.
Politically … Ireland has not yet properly matured as an Independent State.
Ireland’s Relationship with the European Union … I am more than a little curious as to why Ireland is not associated with Declaration No.52, which is annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon …
52. Declaration by the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hellenic Republic, the Kingdom of Spain, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Lithuania, the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Austria, the Portuguese Republic, Romania, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic on the symbols of the European Union
Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic declare that the flag with a circle of twelve golden stars on a blue background, the anthem based on the ‘Ode to Joy’ from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, the motto ‘United in diversity’, the euro as the currency of the European Union and Europe Day on 9 May will for them continue as symbols to express the sense of community of the people in the European Union and their allegiance to it.
Yes … we have a lot to discuss before 2016 !
Update: 2013-06-03 …
On Friday, 31 May 2013, at the Institute of International & European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin … I attended the third seminar in a series organized to mark Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union (January to June 2013) … the seventh such Presidency … and 40 years since Ireland officially joined the European Economic Community (EEC), on 1 January 1973 … after a long, long, long accession process …
‘Economic Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization and EU Integration – Economic, Legal and Political Perspectives’
[ For full information about this IIEA Economic Seminar: www.iiea.com ]
Because the seminar was not only very interesting, but is directly relevant in the context of this post … and the remarks of Mr. Peter Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and the London School of Economics, and former Irish Attorney General, former European Commissioner and former Director-General of the World Trade Organization, caused quite a stir in the printed media on the following day … here is Paper 2 from Seminar Session I … which went to the heart of discussions on the day …
Prof. John W O’Hagan, Dept. of Economics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (635 Kb)
Update: 2014-07-04 …
Economists exist and operate in a special bubble … in their own little isolated world of quasi-science and fantasy, where everything in ‘our’ society is seen merely as an input, or fuel, for economic development. And when they talk about Sustainable Economic Growth … believe me, their notion of ‘sustainable’ is altogether different from our understanding of that word !
It should come as no surprise to learn, therefore, that economists are blissfully unaware that the EuroZone’s current directionless (and dysfunctional) economic governance is causing enormous instability and harm to the whole political entity that is the European Union …
This issue is too important for all of us … to be left to economists and national politicians, alone, to muddle through !
2009-02-20: The recent comment submitted by Mr. Robin Evans regarding the use of Infra-Red Thermography as an aid to BER Assessment … and the high level of confusion and misinformation in the marketplace, which I have now had an opportunity to examine more closely … have forced me to conclude that a series of posts on BER Certificates would be good for the system – ‘my’ system !
There are many pieces in this jig-saw puzzle, but the final picture is wonderful … please believe me.
Before I start to assemble anything, however, a few small details …
–Infra-Red Thermography.This is a valuable technical aid during any Energy Survey of any Building.It is remarkable how much information can be gathered by a good, high-resolution Infra-Red Camera. But, it must be used competently …Because we are working in ambient temperature conditions, i.e. between -10OC and +30 OC, it should be a Long Wave Infra-Red Camera (≈ 8-12 microns).The temperature difference between the inside of the building and the exterior should be at least 10 degrees C … it would be better with 15 degrees C.The Camera Operator should be fully familiar with the operation of the Camera and its associated computer software, etc … and he/she should know what they are looking at.In other words, some sort of architectural background is essential … not only are images taken outside the building, but they are also taken inside the building !Any Camera Work should be done after dark. It is not necessary to do a midnight to 4 o’clock in the morning shift … 8 o’clock in the evening until midnight is perfectly fine.By the way, none of this work can be done in just 30 minutes.Finally, Infra-Red Work is best carried out, in Ireland, during the Heating Season, i.e. the months of November through to March. Depending on the year, it may be possible to squeeze in the end of October and the beginning of April.
In the old days, I used to work as part of a Multi-Disciplinary Team of 4 People (not all males !), comprising a Civil Engineer, a Physicist/Expert in Measurement, an Engineering Technician with a background in Social Science, and myself as Architect/Fire Engineer/Technical Controller.They were great days !
Robin … in order to provide this service for the owner of a typical suburban, semi-detached house … €100 (Euros) is a little on the low side, even as a ‘lost leader’.
And … the Irish Public are indeed blissfully unaware of the efficacy of Infra-Red Thermography.The ‘powers that be’ in Ireland, i.e. the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government (DEHLG), Energy Ireland (SEI) and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), are not at all interested in the ‘real’ energy performance of buildings. They have a vested interest in not being interested.Suddenly … the image of an ostrich, with head deeply embedded in sand, floods my mind …
–BER Certificates & EU/National Legislation.Mr. Charlie McCreevy, Ireland’s EU Commissioner, during one of his many ‘direct, pragmatic and neo-liberal’ talks in Dublin, used the following magnificent phrase in relation to the national implementation of European Union Legislation in the different EU Member States … ‘National Gold Plating and Divergent Implementation’ … some important words to remember ! However, I learned this valuable lesson myself a long, long time ago.
Irish National Legislation:Statutory Instrument No. 666 of 2006: European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006.
These Regulations may be unconstitutional.A prime example … Section 23 (1) states that a person authorised by Energy Ireland (SEI) under the Regulations … ‘may enter, inspect and examine a building or any part of a building for the purpose of forming an opinion as to whether or not a BER Data File or BER Certificate issued for the building, or part of the building, is warranted’.In relation to a private, single-occupation dwelling house … this provision is entirely unacceptable !
The Register of BER Assessors on the SEI WebSite is not reliable.
Because of ‘national gold plating and divergent implementation’ in Ireland, it is necessary to be familiar, also, with the originating EU Secondary Legislation.
European Union Legislation:EU Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 16 December 2002, on the Energy Performance of Buildings.
Both pieces of legislation can be downloaded from the SDI WebSite … here.
–Thermal Comfort in Buildings.The starting point for any discussion about this subject should be an International Standard, which is also the European Standard and the Irish National Standard … ISO 7730Moderate Thermal Environments – Determination of the PMV and PPD Indices and Specification of the Conditions for Thermal Comfort.
This Standard establishes the following important general principle … and is also critical in relation to people with activity limitations who use/occupy/visit buildings: Man’s/Woman’s Thermal Sensation is mainly related to the thermal balance of his/her body as a whole.This balance is influenced by his/her physical activity and clothing, as well as the environmental parameters: air temperature, mean radiant temperature, air velocity (i.e. draughts) and air humidity.
Air Temperature, alone, is definitely not an Indicator of Thermal Comfort in a building.
–Technical Control of Construction.The 2005 & 2008 NIST Reports on the 9-11 WTC Incident have presented us with some stark language … ‘NIST urges state and local agencies to rigorously enforce building codes and standards since such enforcement is critical to ensure the expected level of safety … unless they are complied with, the best codes and standards cannot protect occupants, emergency responders, or buildings.’
With regard to Private Construction in Ireland … Building Control Authorities in Ireland are, purposefully, not sufficiently resourced to be ‘effective’.See my earlier Post, dated 2009-02-12.
With regard to Public Construction in Ireland … self-regulation is no regulation ! Government Departments, the Office of Public Works and Local Authorities can, far too often, be complacent, careless and/or stubborn concerning compliance with even the minimal performance levels specified in building regulations, codes and standards.