The problem or protecting customers and users against poor concrete construction practices has been before the eyes of European authorities for many years. Over the past year, however, a Common Market commission in Brussels has been considering the need to establish common requirements for the whole of Europe. This need is becoming more urgent as trade barriers disappear, permitting construction operations and precast components to flow across national boundaries. So far the work of preparing a single European Code of Practice is still in its infancy but its arrival is inevitable. The International Standards Organization is marginally cooperating in the project. Building regulations were originally devised for the protection of health as well as safety. Today all regulations recognize the need to encourage better construction. The two main approaches to the problem are the so-called French and Germanic systems. The French system is based on the Code Napoleon. The French system enforces legal responsibility more clearly than any other. Architect and contractor are legally responsible for any major faults in a building for a period of 10 years; for minor faults, 2 years. In practice architects and contractors purchase insurance to protect themselves by maintaining strict certification and registration of all architects and contractors. For an unusual or particularly difficult contract there is an additional control imposed by an independent technical office. The Germanic system, with variations, operates in all the Germanic nations- West Germany, Austria, Holland, and the Scandinavian countries. This system is probably the most democratic in its concept and therefore has the inherent weakness of being open to argument at its various levels of enforcement. There are three main degrees of control: at the legislative level- to establish the country's basic building laws; at the national level- where standards and codes of practice are established; and at the local level- the point where building permits are issued. The construction industry in Europe has been suffering from an economic recession for several years. This situation has, however, accentuated the recognition that the client is entitled to full protection when the job is finished. In other words, with less work available, more contractors are ready to guarantee better workmanship. Virtually all European contractors today will agree: responsibility, yes; control, yes- but it is essential that controls do not impose a restriction on innovations.