The social stakeholders of construction industry in the European Union signed a document to encourage heads of state, governments and Member States, to implement the new instrument of post-coronavirus recovery “Next Generation EU”, which can meet the challenges of the sector.
In 2019, the construction industry accounted for 9.5% of the gross domestic product of the 27 countries of the European Union, with 12.7 million workers and 3 million companies – mostly SMEs with less than 20 workers. In addition, construction activities contribute to the overall economy through a strong multiplier of the economy and effective employment.
During their operational phase, buildings account around 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. Therefore, as indicated by the European Green Agreement, they offer a great opportunity to reduce energy efficiency and emissions.
In this framework without construction sector, the European Union cannot respond to its main challenges in terms of competitiveness, youth unemployment, digitalization, energy efficiency and energy poverty, circular economy, affordable housing, climate change, clean mobility and connected infrastructure, etc.
Boosting construction activities must be at the heart of economic recovery plans, both in the EU and in the Member States, which means stepping up efforts in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Consolidation and work ahead
To ensure this, the social stakeholders of the EU construction industry signed on July 17th, in Brussels, a document to make a joint call for a quick and sustainable recovery of the construction industry: European Federation of Buildings and Wood Workers (EFBWW) and European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC), together with European Builders Confederation (EBC), Construction Products Europe, Housing Europe, International Union of Property Owners (UIPI) and EuroACE (Alliance of EU companies for energy efficiency in buildings).
Among their acknowledgements and proposals, these institutions include the following points:
- Welcoming the new recovery instrument “Next Generation EU” proposed by the European Commission (EC) in close link with the objectives of the European Green Agreement. In this sense, the signatory entities call on governments to promote sustainable construction of the building stock in the EU and to quickly approve and firmly implement it. This will require flexible fiscal and budgetary rules, both in the EU and in the Member States, to enable public authorities to be the driving force behind such investment programmes.
- Calling for the establishment of the appropriate regulatory framework, instruments and procedures (including accelerated procedures, the application of environmental and social criteria, and the rejection of abnormally low tenders in public procurement), in order to ensure that Member States can make the best use of available funds and that these funds effectively reach the real economy in the shortest possible time.
- Involving the European and national social partners of the construction industry, as well as other stakeholders in the construction ecosystem, in the implementation and application of the European and national recovery packages, to ensure that the measures are targeted and effective.
- Supporting investments for the success of Europe’s green and digital transitions, and also in a sustainable renovation of the EU building stock. In addition, the EU also requires sustainable investment in maintenance of existing infrastructure and in new infrastructure and climate-resistant buildings in order to reduce environmental impact and make EU more competitive.
- The need to focus priorities and investments on increasing training and education programmes for re-training and upgrading workers to enable them to cope with changes and market needs as quickly as possible.