The premier trade and employers'

association for painting & decorating

contractors in the United Kingdom


 UNIEP – The International Association of Painting Contractors

Who we are

UNIEP is the International Union of Painting Contractors (, founded in 1953 by pioneers of national associations that foresaw back then the importance international unions would have in an interlinked world like today. The founding meeting took place inParis.

UNIEP defends the interests of Painting Contractors inEuropeby lobbying the European Union Institutions, promotes international events and carries out projects that encourage the exchange of experiences and best practices in the context of the painting profession.

UNIEP currently gathers 13 National Associations member in Europe and 1 inCanada, representing around 50.000 businesses. One of its scope is to extend membership to increase its influence and representation. 

UNIEP is also member of UEAPME ( the European Association for Craft and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises gathering all horizontal associations of SMEs inEurope.

The main objects of UNIEP consist in:

  • promoting the interest of associations of contractor engaged in painting and decorating and relating fields;
  • studying trade related issues and opportunities of common concern that face the member associations;
  • fostering the exchange of experiences and information amongst members.

Benefits and services

UNIEP’ Secretariat inBrusselsprovides information and support on a day to day basis on EU policies issues of interest for the sector. In particular its activity concerns in:

  • analysing the legislative procedure in preparation at the EU Institutions level, paying attention to the needs of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Painting Sector (VAT, fiscal issues, public procurements, chemical products, vocational training, health and safety at work, etc);
  • contacting members, explaining possible concern linked to the eventual application of a regulation and asking for opinion on the above policies through regular News Alerts (circulars);
  • redacting position papers to be addressed to the EU Institutions at different stage of legislative procedure;
  • answering to European Commission’s public consultations;
  • editing a Newsletter ( summarising activities, projects and events;

participating to European projects as:

Participating as partner to European campaigns as:

  • “Prevention of Risk” promoted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (
  • Organising Policy Day on a regular basis to discuss and exchange with Members and officials from the European Commission on EU policies under discussion and on market trends.


Aims and achievements

2011-2012 have been years full of achievements for UNIEP, although the persisting economic difficult situation.

Membership: The Belgian and the Canadian associations joint UNIEP.

Policies: UNIEPS presented two important position papers concerning the Revision of the Public Procurement Directive and the VAT system reform. 

Concerning Public Procurement, UNIEP supported the European Commission for making SME’s access to public tenders easier, fairer and more transparent by revising existing purchasing procedures. 

As for the simplification, UNIEP valued the flexibility that the proposal reflected welcoming the Electronic Procurement passport and the introduction of a self-declaration of compliance as a first step to reduce red tape's costs. Along with the division of contracts into lots, UNIEP supported the requirement limitation and valued the will to allow direct payment to subcontractors, often suffering from delayed payment. 

In order to avoid favouritism, to preserve from an unbalanced field of competitors and to save small and medium-size enterprises from a red tape’s overload, UNIEP proposed a limited number of permitted negotiations to be decided. 

Concerning the revision of the existing legislation on VAT reduced rates, UNIEP answered to a public consultation of the European Commission, stating that no distortion of competition within the Single Market has been observed during last years due to the application of a reduced VAT rate for painting works in Member States. UNIEP stressed once again the importance of permanent reduced VAT rates for labour intensive services such as house maintenance and renovation works explaining that this provision reduced the illegal work and saved jobs in our sector. 

Furthermore, UNIEP indicated that it is important to apply the reduced VAT rate in such a way to take resource efficiency into account. Considering the adequate maintenance of houses, i.e. professional painting work is a very efficient way of improving the use of resources, since painting work enlarges the life of buildings. 

Projects: in 2013 UNIEP will participate as a partner to a new Vocational Training project under Leonardo da Vinci programme, aiming to create a network among Professional schools, Companies and Associations in order to make easier the recognition of professional qualification and the mobility of young people.


Importance of UNIEP membership

In the above shown scenario, we can understand how important is, on one hand, to continue and improve UNIEP activity in order to influence EU Institutions’ decisions, and on the other hand, the political action of our Associations Member at national level.

During the last 2 years, UNIEP contacts with European Institutions have been re-launched through our lobbying activity and the organisation of the Policy days in March and November has been the occasion to debate with high officials of the EU Commission and MEPs about subjects of interest for our sector. In particular our attention was focussed on the Revision of EU Public Procurements rules, the Musculoskeletal disorders’ future initiative, the Value Added Tax Reform and the REACH legislation. A regular update on these matters has been provided through the EU Policy grid which has been sent to all member associations.

In light of the challenges that UNIEP has to face, a 3 years action plan will be put in place and efforts will be done in order to create a strong network of experts/sectoral operators among our members. 

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