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The eighth meeting of the High Level Tripartite Strategic Forum '2050 Construction' meets more than one hundred professionals

This forum, held on June 17th, is part of the European Commission's Action Plan for 'Construction 2020'. Speakers and attendees discussed about the EU Next Generation Recovery Plan, including the Renovation Wave, to strengthen the sector's ecosystem in the face of the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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25/06/2020

Construction has always been cyclical, but after the health crisis caused by COVID-19, it is facing an unprecedented crisis with a 50% drop in European activity in the second quarter, an estimated 25% in the third quarter and 12% expected in the fourth quarter, according to the European Commission (EC).

The financial difficulties and cash flow problems, in special for SMEs, are no doubt some of the consequences highlighted at the High Level Tripartite Strategic Forum 'Construction 2050', as well as the differences in impact and expected recovery between Member States. According to this, the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) defined at the meeting, that the activity in the construction sector in the Member States in 2020, compared to 2019, marks considerable differences among the least affected countries, including Austria and the Netherlands (1%), Germany (3%), Belgium (7.5%) and Sweden (8%); and the most damaged, such as France and Italy (20%) or Spain (25-30%).

This strategic forum, which forms part of the European Commission's Action Plan for 'Construction 2020', and in which Fundación Laboral usually participates, was attended by more than one hundred professionals from Europe - including representatives of companies, qualified workers, the EC and a good number of Member State governments.  The eighth meeting, held by videoconference on June 17th, served to discuss how the Next Generation EU Recovery Plan, including the Renovation Wave, can help the construction ecosystem to recover and come out stronger from the crisis.

To address the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission proposed on May 27th a renewed seven-year (2021-2027) long term European Union (EU) budget of €1.85 billion (a revised long term budget of €1.1 billion for 2021-2027 and a temporary reinforcement of €750 million for the New Generation EU programme), among other instruments.

Challenges and opportunities

The experiences shared by stakeholders in the building ecosystem also highlighted the challenges found in their supply chains and to address additional sanitary measures. 

However, participants agreed that the recovery and investment in the future of Europe's built environment can be turned into a win-win opportunity that supports the long-term ambitions of a green, digital and resilient Europe. The Green Deal and Renovation Wave, the Industrial Strategy and Action Plan for the Circular Economy, and the EU Next Generation Recovery Plan will together provide public investment and strategic direction to achieve these goals.

This recovery will require an integrated and holistic approach that brings together the entire ecosystem of the construction sector. In fact, during the meeting, speakers and participants pointed out several aspects, such as the need to have the right skills to implement the Wave of Renewal, the  importance of ensuring that SMEs can access financing and assessing the needs of building users and their ability to pay rent.

Construction, one of the main areas of the German Presidency of the European Council

A representative of the German Federal Government confirmed that construction will be one of the main areas of focus of the German Presidency of the European Council in the second half of 2020. Germany aims to support the promotion of sustainability and circularity in buildings, construction products and the built environment.

Other issues were discussed that highlighted the need to continue working towards a continuous dialogue that can strengthen and support resilience, involving the Commission, Member States and stakeholders. Such a dialogue could also help to accelerate the implementation of necessary measures and include ongoing initiatives (such as financing opportunities for the built environment and the assessment of national recovery plans in this regard, regulation of construction products, sustainable public procurement, etc.). The European Commission is currently preparing the future 'Wave of Renewal' initiative and is inviting stakeholders to submit their views and ideas through a public consultation.

The Construction 2050 Alliance was formally launched during the High Level Strategic Tripartite Forum 'Construction 2050'. Today, 46 organisations have joined together to achieve: a specific and singular approach to construction, an adaptable policy framework to address the transformation of the industry, a holistic approach for coherent and balanced policies and legislation, and a strong partnership among the Union institutions, Member States and construction stakeholders.

Only with a cohesive European industry will the construction industry have a chance to overcome crises and build the environment that Europeans need.

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