Surveyors from Tallinn to Toledo - 26/04/2011

GIM International Interviews Jean-Yves Pirlot

Durk Haarsma, publishing director, Geomares Publishing

Jean-Yves Pirlot, since 2010 head of the Council of European Geodetic Surveyors (CLGE – the acronym stems from the French: Comité de Liaison des Géomètres Européens), sees one important role for the organisation in being proactively involved in legislation concerning surveyors in the European Union. ‘Otherwise,’ he says, ‘decisions are taken without consulting the group of professionals. Therefore we need to raise our profile in order to be on the radar all the time.’ The CLGE resides in the House of the European Surveyor and Geo-Information, a stately old building in the middle of Brussels and close to the centre of power. CLGE represents national surveyors’ associations of 33 member countries within the wider arena of the Council of Europe, which consists of an area larger than just the European Union. From the latter, though, all 27 member states are represented. This means CLGE represents the interests of almost 50,000 geodetic surveyors spread across the entire continent, making CLGE their leading representative body.

What is the main goal of the CLGE?
There are a few, of course. First of all, we are always working from the idea that we are there to promote and foster the profession of surveyor in Europe. Cadastral surveying is the basis on which we build. We believe that cadastral surveying and surveyors play a key role in the economics of a country, because they are fundamental to real-estate as well as GDI markets. Through a proactive approach, we want to influence legislation and take part in development and evaluation of directives coming from the European Union and touching on the profession of the surveyor in the EU and abroad. Using this approach we strive not only to secure the future of our profession, but also to play a humble but important role for future generations.

What is your main challenge in realising this?
It’s a real uphill struggle to make yourself visible on the radar of the European Union decision-makers and national authorities. This is probably the biggest challenge. Only through engaging positively at the heart of Europe, in Brussels, and by working together with other European representative bodies such as EuroGeographics, CEPLIS, EGoS and EUPOS will we be able to make more proactive moves, rather than behaving reactively, and participate in the legislative process in Europe.

You are representing close to 50,000 surveyors all over Europe. What does the European surveyor see of your work?

Sometimes we find ourselves wondering whether and how our work percolates down to the level of the individual surveyor. It’s indeed very much our goal to positively influence the daily situation for those thousands we are representing in Brussels. One of the ways we would like to do this now is to empower the general assembly that comes together twice a year in different places all over Europe. Every member state has the right to appoint two delegates to the general assembly, and we are working towards models to make it easier for everybody to speak and at the same time be heard. If there is still a gap now, we are definitely determined to fill it.

My last question implies there is such a person as a ‘European surveyor’. But is this the case?
No, not yet. There might be a common basis, but it is just as true that surveyors differ from person to person and place to place.  This is a very heterogeneous profession: one works for the government as a land surveyor, the other as geo-professional in commerce; one is an accredited surveyor, the other not. As we at CLGE say, the surveyor working in Tallinn or Toledo are often doing very different jobs, but everybody has the same notion that they are a surveyor. We do not really want to change this and harmonise every detail of our daily business, but we want at least to learn from each other. And, in the end, everybody in this growing field benefits from clear and to-the-point legislation and representation. For all these reasons our next main deliverable shall be the creation of a dynamic professional knowledge base, helping us to appear on the radar in the outside world, but also unite our profession a little more.

You are working a lot in Eastern Europe. Is that deliberate?
Not really. We have indeed accomplished a few projects in Eastern Europe, due to the fact that our recent expansion took place in this very region. Moldavia, for instance, a member since our last general assembly, has called in a CLGE taskforce to prepare the future of its cadastral system based on cooperation between public and private surveyors. Serbia is not yet a member, but some of your readers have already helped create a national union of surveyors there. Often individual surveyors from other countries such as Germany, France or Switzerland are very ‘hands on’ in these projects, really going over to Eastern Europe and helping out. It is obvious that there’s still a lot of difference between countries. We can play a role in bringing expertise together.

One goal achieved already is the establishment of a Code of Conduct. Can you say a little more about this?

The Code of Conduct for the European Surveyor, undersigned by all member states from the UK to the Russian Federation and now being implemented by them all, is meant to shape a cadre of rules of behaviour. It lays down ethical guidelines for the individual surveyor to comply with in order to guarantee quality of our services. The national associations are allowed to discipline surveyors who are not complying, even when the infringement was committed elsewhere in Europe. We are in favour of mobility, but not wild wandering.

Do you see a changing role for the surveyor in general, and in Europe in particular?
Yes, the role of the surveyor is changing. With a push on the button, a lot of data can be gathered at once. That seems much easier than it was years ago. But in fact, it’s much more difficult; maybe not the data gathering, but certainly the data managing. At CLGE we think the surveyor plays a key role in the economy of a country, and that the accredited surveyor offers another important guarantee against crises in real estate such as we have seen in various countries over recent years. The surveyor is becoming, besides a geo-information specialist and data manager, also a consultant. So while the basis is growing somewhat more automated and therefore easier, the high end of the profession is getting more complicated.

How do you want to transcend this evolution?
In an ‘Accord Multilateral’, an agreement signed between an important and increasing proportion of CLGE association membership, we have agreed that the basis for becoming a cadastral surveyor should be BAC+5+2T+SE. This formula represents an outline for professional training: a bachelor degree should be followed with masterate, on top of which two years of traineeship and State Examination. This model, already in place in some states such as France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria, but also, for instance, in Croatia, secures the educational status of the surveyor and thus too underlines the importance of the profession. In this way we will ensure a field full of high-quality professionals, able to play the key role we have identified.


Last updated: 28/10/2020