EFFC's application and acceptance as the first associate member of FIEC, the European Construction Industry Federation is integrally tied up with the work of EFFC's contracts and qualifications working groups.
FIEC's high priority issues include qualification of contractors, abnormally low offers, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), mirroring very closely the concerns of EFFC.
While there has been concern that closer association with FIEC had the potential to limit EFFC's ability to speak freely on behalf of specialist subcontractors, recent contact with FIEC has convinced EFFC that these fears were unfounded.
In particular reassurance has come from FIEC's efforts to be seen to be representing contractors' organisations of all sizes at a European level. This, afterall is its stated brief, says FIEC, and any perception that it represents mainly large contractors is totally erroneous. Around 90% of firms in the construction industry, and the overwhelming majority of its membership, are small and medium sized enterprises.
For this reason FIEC has made the concerns of these small and medium sized companies a priority issue, and it is hoped that EFFC's role as the first FIEC associate member will have a signifcant impact in this area.
For example EFFC is confident that its participation in FIEC committees and working groups will ensure that the view of specialist subcontractors are considered at the point where policy and positions are under discussion. This should help to ensure that FIEC is truly fully representative of all contractors in the construction industry.
FIEC identifies important areas of concern to be relationships with larger firms and in particular between main contract and sub contractor. Where the interface between such firms is either badly managed or is subjected to unexpected events or influences, the contractual relationship comes under strain.
While FIEC is aware that this has led to the perception that the interests of small and large contractors are so different that it is not possible to determine and project a single voice for the industry, it shares with EFFC a strong belief that speaking to governments and public authorities with anything other that a single voice weakens the message.
To help develop this line of thought FIEC has set up ECO-6 covering 'fair relations between partners'. Since 1995 this group has been drafting a document to explain fair relationships between a main contractor and subcontractor.
ECO-5 is a sister document to ECO-6 and covers European Principles for a contract with a general contractor. ECO-5 corresponds broadly to the principles identified as essential by EFFC in its Level 2 documents (ie contracts between main and subcontractor). ECO-5 is in the form of a checklist and aims at establish the guiding principles which should serve as a basis for creating a framework for a model contract between a general contractor and a client. Together the two FIEC documents will serve as a basis of discussion for a document ethical rules and principles governing collaboration between partners, subcontractors, joint contractors and clients.