A brief report on the Spring Congress & General Assembly
On 28-29th May 2015, ECG held its 20th Spring Congress & General Assembly in the seaside town of Cascais, near Lisbon. Over 100 representatives from member-companies and guests took part in the event held in the Grande Real Villa Italia Hotel, where the first day comprised of a Board Meeting preceding the statutory General Assembly.
The ‘members only’ session of the General Assembly began with ECG President Costantino Baldissara’s opening speech, followed by the Treasurer’s report and votes to accept the accounts and the budget.
ECG’s Vice-President Wolfgang Göbel commenced the open session with his activity report of the past year’s achievements, wrapping up membership, sponsorship, the changes in the ECG Secretariat, etc. Then the ECG Board Members took the floor to present about the Working Groups they are in charge for: EU Affairs, Maritime & Ports, Land Transport, Quality, Eastern Region, UK & Ireland. The Carex program, developed by ECG member Autotechnoimport was also presented and the audience could hear about the latest ECG Academy Course from Dr. Christian-Titus Klaiber, the Director of the ECG Academy. This was followed by a report from Executive Director Mike Sturgeon with a selection of results from the latest ECG Confidence & Cost Trend Quarterly Survey. The Board members reported on their activities of the last year and mentioned future projects, while members were queried on relevant issues via interactive questions after each presentation.
During the election of the Board, all 14 candidates from the previous Board were reconfirmed in their positions. Roberto Volpato, Board member for 4 years and Treasurer for the last two years, stepped down. His dedicated work and outstanding services to the Association were commemorated by the award of an ECG ‘Golden Pin’.
The day ended with a formal dinner followed by the graduation ceremony of Course 9 of the ECG Academy. All 15 students graduated and were awarded the Certificate in Automobile Logistics Management by KPMG Education. Christian Paul of Daimler received the Giovanni Paci Award for best student which was presented by ECG President Costantino Baldissara and DG MOVE Director General João Aguiar Machado.
The Spring Congress itself took place on the second day and was opened by President Baldissara. In his speech he highlighted the need for investment in the finished vehicle logistics (FVL) sector in order to keep pace with new demands. His speech was followed by João Aguiar Machado, Director General of DG MOVE of the European Commission who delivered a very strong message to the logistics sector: “The European economy depends on a successful, efficient and cost-competitive logistics supply chain. Thanks to the European logistics sector, our industries can be competitive and reach markets around the world. European companies are very strong in logistics and we need this to remain one of our best assets.” He also spoke of the digitalisation of transport and logistics which can deliver optimisation of traffic and cargo management as well as administrative simplification, and invited both ECG and its members to contribute to the Commission’s upcoming Digital Transport and Logistics Forum.
Mr Machado conceded that the European Commission has a role to play in the creation of a favourable environment for the logistics sector. “Since logistics is a cross-cutting sector, it requires an integrated policy approach across modes and sectors. It further requires a system perspective, addressing all elements of the transport system in a balanced way and bearing that they are intertwined,” he noted. At the end of his speech, he highlighted that the voice of the FVL sector will not go unheard as the European Commission is keen to ensure dialogue with the sector.
The first session of the Spring Congress continued with Mr Markku Mylly, Executive Director of the European Maritime Safety Agency, presenting on EMSA which is based in Lisbon. Dr. Vitor Caldeirinha, President of the Port of Setúbal presented the port, the biggest finished vehicle handling port in Portugal.
The final speaker of the session was Member of the European Parliament (MEP) José Inacio Faria, member of the Transport (TRAN) and Environment (ENVI) Committees of the EP and Rapporteur on the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of shipping emissions. In his speech he gave a picture of the TRAN Committee’s work on the different transport modes in the coming year, like the Road package, binding targets for CO2 emissions, road charging and Eurovignette, etc. Currently, TRAN is working on the review of the White Paper on Transport and MEP Faria highlighted that the ongoing political focus on co-modality is important as it can lead to a decrease in transport noise, emissions and accidents.
In the Q&A session, Mr Machado noted that the current mid-term review of the Transport White paper is a “stock taking exercise” and that observations may feed into other laws, not definitely into a revised White Paper. On the revision of the Eurovignette directive, he noted that tolling will not be imposed on the Member States, only good practices will be drafted that Member States can implement. On the German Minimum Wage law the Director General said that the infringement procedure was launched on 19th May. Germany now has 2 months to reply to the Commission’s concerns. He further clarified its position: 1) The Commission is not against national Minimum Wage laws as such; 2) The Commission only disputed the use of the law with regards to the international transport sector; 3) The question also arises if the compliance measures and sanctions imposed by Germany are proportionate.
The second session of the Spring Congress opened with the presentation of Justin Cox, Head of European Production at LMC Automotive who gave an outlook on the automotive market. He highlighted that although the automotive market is experiencing growth in 2015, actual growth rate is still slow (1.6-1.7% in 2015). However, sales in Russia have decreased by a third. The European-sources imports were also affected by the market situation in Russia, due to the localisation of production and scrappage schemes. He further noted that due to localisation, brands like BMW, Mercedes or VW will grow in North America and Asia Pacific. They are expected to expand capacity in North America and to increase model proliferation in the Asia Pacific region.
Justin Cox also presented on the major European OEMs and their predicted growth rates from 2014 to 2019. The most successful OEMs in 2019 will be those who have a robust production base in Europe, according to LMC Automotive’s analysis. In summary, he noted that non-Russian European production is being boosted by a positive domestic sales trend. In the medium term, the European market will become the key driver for production expansion as well as repatriation, model renewal and new export orientation.
The next presentation in the second session came from Jan Nemec, Head of Social Affairs at the European representation of IRU. In one of his slides he asked the question: Is the so-called ‘social dumping’ an opportunity, a normal business practice or something that has to be prevented? Different views exist on the definition of the term and also on its interpretation. There are already various national reactions to issues such as social dumping: the German Minimum wage, the French and Belgian driver rest time restrictions. Regarding the new French and Belgian laws preventing the driver from spending their weekend rest time in the cabin, Nemec noted that in France there are only 3 secured car parks with accommodation and 14 unsecured car parks with hotels. In Belgium the situation is similar. The impact of the law is additional empty runs, extra kilometres driven and more CO2 emitted.
On the German Minimum Wage law he noted that the IRU asked for a moratorium on the application of the law to the transport sector while the infringement procedure lasts (as it had previously obtained the moratorium on transit traffic only, which is currently in force). However, the law is a highly political issue and the single market will fall apart if all the Member States are following suit.
In his closing words, ECG President Costantino Baldissara once again emphasised that the overall tone is positive in the finished vehicle logistics market as consumer and business confidence is returning and that the automotive industry is recovering, however there are warning signs of a lack of capacity and therefore investment is needed to meet this increasing demand.