The annual gathering of the European Panel Federation (EPF) and the European Federation of the Plywood Industry (FEIC), hosted by a different national association each year, was held this June close to the magnificent cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
José Craballo, president of the Spanish panel federation ANFTA welcomed delegates and expressed the hope that the EPF and FEIC would soon become fully integrated as one association.

Timoteo de la Fuenta García, Spanish Ministry of Industry, expressed his government’s support, saying: “These are difficult economic times and we must resist, hold the fort and get ready to become stronger”.
Mr Angelo Bernardo Tahoces, director general of industry, energy and mines for Galicia, said the first European MDF
factory was built in Galicia and that the region strongly supports its wood industry.
Ladislaus Döry presented the 10th annual report of the EPF.
Mr Döry said that some sectors, such as the car industry in certain European countries, receive government support in the form of a subsidy to consumers for replacing older cars with new ones. He suggested a similar incentive scheme be introduced to encourage consumers to replace old kitchen cabinets, for example.
He also suggested there should be general EU communications on the positive role of wood based products as carbon stores; a reduction in VAT for residential construction/renovation and for ‘Kyoto-friendly’ products such as wood based products; and encouragement of wood recycling and cascaded use of wood.
Mr Döry then reported the figures from the 2008 EPF Annual Report.
In the year, 65.8 million m3 of panels were produced in Europe, excluding Russia and Turkey, with MDF accounting for 22%, particleboard 61%, OSB 6%, hard/softboard 5% and plywood 6%.
For particleboard, there was a 25.5% fall in imports, to 455,000m3, and a 5.7% increase in exports, to 2.1 million m3. Production fell 8.7% in 2008.
Particleboard plant closures in 2008/9 amounted to 100,000m3 in the UK in 2009 and 470,000m3 in Germany, so far. Additional capacity of 250,000m3 was added in the Czech Republic.
For MDF, there was 12.2 million m3 of production and 11.1 million m3 of consumption. Capacity between 2008 and 2010 was set to lose an as-yet unspecified quantity in France in 2009/10 and 100,000m3 in Germany so far, while Poland gained 250,000m3 in 2008 and expects another 500,000m3 in 2010.
Exports in 2008 (EU27) amounted to 1.6 million m3 (+13%), while imports were 245,000m3 (-20%).
For OSB, there was 3.3 million m3 of production (-9%) and only 2.7 million m3 of consumption (also -9%), with 985,000m3 of exports. An additional 500,000m3 each was added in Latvia in 2007 and Romania in 2009.
Turning to cost evolution in 2008, Mr Döry said the increases were: wood +4%; resins +20%; energy +30%; and transport +6% – all European average figures.
On wood availability, he said EU policies were based on wrong assumptions and that under the current RES policy targets, wood cannot fulfil the requirements without jeopardising the needs of the woodworking industries on the basis of its current share in biomass energy.
“We need reliable data on current wood use and future availability….for both policy making and future competitiveness,concluded the EPF president.
Uldis Bikis, president of the FEIC, then presented his federation’s report.
He said it had 75 member companies in 21 countries, producing 0.3 million m3 of blockboard and four million m3 of plywood in 2008.
“Although FEIC on its own is a rather small entity, it has real lobbying power and offers a great variety of membership services by sharing offices and being a member of the European Confederation of the Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois), as well as by creating further synergies with the structure and staff of EPF,said the president.
Plywood production in Europe overall shrank 2.3% in 2008, he reported, due to significantly lower production in the last quarter. For the EU countries, it fell 7.2% compared with 2007. The Russian FEIC members faired better. A further overall fall of at least 15% is expected for 2009, said Mr Bikis.
EU-27 imports dropped 8.3% in 2008 and exports by 6.8%. European consumption dropped 10%.
The EPF and FEIC continue to lobby for their industries at an EU and global level and to sponsor relevant research.
As we went to press, it appeared the 2010 meetings will probably be held in Dresden, Germany, in June.
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