The Furniture Sector in Europe and the ECO4VET European perspective

The reason behind the ECO4VET project was to respond to consumers’ and legal demands for using more environmentally friendly materials, processes and services in the Furniture sector. In order to give an appropriate answer to these requests and to the additional pressures coming from producers from low wages economies, the winning competitiveness of European Furniture sector shall take into consideration different criteria, among others, efficient products and processes, innovative and attractive design.

This project has aimed to support at least two key aspects to be taken into consideration when talking about current and future competitiveness: the design innovation according to sustainability criteria and the reduction of the companies’ environmental footprint through more sustainable and efficient production processes. The project initial questionnaires made clear that there is a lack of skills and competences related to these topics within the European furniture sector. This lack is a medium-term serious threat if it is not properly tackled by the sector.

The project has finally delivered new, innovative and interactive training materials able to support professionals and companies to face this sector demanding challenges related to sustainability. It is clear that this is not the arrival point, it is an ongoing process and that the delivered course is just a relevant first step into this direction.

ECO4VET has been the first EU project coordinated by CENFIM and this allowed us to appreciate the existing differences within the sector across the different European countries involved.. Transnational projects and initiatives surely represent valuable contributions to make clear those competitive advantages that each country has and could export and on the other side, they make clear which negative aspects and conditions should be urgently tackled.

These considerations clarify that cross borders collaborations among European sector stakeholders, able to exploit local and national competitive advantages and specific expertise, can strongly support the European furniture sector to create more green jobs, strengthen European competitive advantages and contribute to the overall European economic system. ECO4VET project partners are committed to working further toward this direction using the project outcomes to strengthen the furniture sector competitiveness and innovation across Europe.