Many of these factors relate to the ongoing instability in various parts of Europe, but in today’s interconnected global economy, innumerable current events and trends can impact the marketplace.
by Tom Angle & Chris Angle
January 25, 2017

Important for those manufacturers that supply transmitting equipment with their pumps and motors, a new Radio Equipment Directive (RED) became applicable on June 12, 2016. New equipment placed on the EU market after this date must be in compliance with this directive. Equipment currently being marketed has until June 13, 2017, to meet the requirements.

Several other items on the horizon could affect pump manufacturers, but currently neither details nor hard implementation dates are in place.

Materials in Contact with Drinking Water: This is an attempt to standardize the allowable materials used in pumping, controlling and conveying drinking water across the EU. Currently, each member state has its own requirements, and exporters into Europe face an extremely complex situation. Studies have been ongoing for more than a decade, and no consensus has been reached concerning the standard and an implementation date.

Product Environmental Footprint (PEF): This is a carbon footprint defined as the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production, lifetime operation and disposal of a product. There is ongoing work on this initiative, and the pump industry, through Europump, is participating in the development of the calculation procedures to comply with an eventual European directive in this area. Practical implementation of such a directive is several years away.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE): This directive that became European law in February 2003 set goals for recycling all types of electrical and electronic goods—including all pump motors. Because it did not meet its goals, the initiative has been amended and now places the responsibility for a product’s final disposal on the manufacturer or distributor. At this point, only consumer goods are covered, but there is discussion regarding expansion into industrial products. At this time, pump manufacturers are excluded, but the pump industry in Europe is keeping a close eye on this issue. If the industry does come under this directive, the costs will be quite high.

One Certainty

Overall, doing business in Europe has been challenging over the last few years amid the financial crisis as one over-leveraged country after another has caused worry in the markets and the euro to depreciate. Many of those factors remain, and some new macro-factors have arisen that can add instability to the euro in the coming years. While companies experienced in doing business in Europe likely will not be forced to abandon the market (as some Brexit doomsayers have predicted or advised), their activities probably will be more challenging.

There are many unanswered questions and uncertainties. The political, economic and regulatory environments point to a future that can seem to be incomprehensible, and it is easy to fall into “doom-and-gloom” thinking. Steve Schofield, director and chief executive of the British Pump Manufacturers Association, provides important advice for the industry:

“Nobody knows what effect Brexit or Donald Trump becoming U.S. president will have on global markets. The current predictions are for growth across Europe to be around 0.5 to 1 percent for 2017 and ’18. The low oil price affects many sectors, and growth looks stagnant for the foreseeable future. Areas such as commercial, building service, water, and water and wastewater are expected to retain their current levels of business, and in some countries they are expected to grow further. The majority of pump manufacturers are now truly international with businesses set up in the majority of continents around the globe, so they can have a negative effect in one location and a positive effect in another. One thing is for sure: If you wish to move a liquid from A to B location, a pump will be required.”