Electrical contractors generate a large majority of their turnover in the construction/renovation sector – even though e-mobility brings growing opportunities. They are in charge of electrical installations, they install, operate and do maintenance on solar panels, energy management/automation devices and so on. Moreover, they integrate all electrified devices in the built environment, to make them smarter and bring more comfort.
It was thus quite natural for EuropeOn to join the renewed Construction 2050 Alliance, which brings together all relevant European construction associations such as FIEC, EBC, CECE, CPE and 40 other associations.
The new alliance was launched during the High Level Tripartite Strategic Forum for the Construction sector, an event organised by the European Commission on the 17th of June 2020. As recalled by Fulvia Raffaelli (Head of Unit for Circular economy and Construction at DG GROW): “Construction is one of the most impacted sectors by Covid-19 in Europe” (it actually comes second just after tourism). Actually, the Commission has evaluated that there had been a drop of 50% in activity in the construction sector across Europe during Q2. It is estimated that the drop will be of 25% for Q3 and 12,5% for Q4.
In this troubled context, which is also the context of ambitious policies for construction and renovation, in particular the much awaited for Renovation Wave, the Alliance’s work-programme for 2020/2021 can be summarized as follows:
- Making construction part of the solution to Europe’s recovery
- Show the contribution of the built environment to the EU Green Deal
- Highlight the human factor in construction: we are a labour-intensive industry and must emphasise safety, skills, as well as improve the image of the industry
- Have a construction approach to the EU Data Strategy, which will be central in the new Germany presidency of the Council (see other news).
The Construction 2050 Alliance underlined the great obstacles faced by the sector both during the lockdown – disruption of many worksites, difficulties in the supply chain and in the mobility of workers, lack of protective equipment for the workers – and since then – lack of liquidities, reorganization of worksites to comply with the new health protocols, additional costs (of roughly 10%) while productivity is reduced, etc.
The Alliance also insisted on the fact that it is very difficult for eligible candidates, especially SMEs, to know which grants/ EU programmes exist and how to access to funding. This observation calls for more user-friendly documents, YouTube tutorials etc. to make this support more broadly and fairly accessible.
Coming back to the Renovation Wave, we were pleased to hear Inge Bernaerts (Head of Unit “Energy Efficiency” at DG ENER) insist on the idea that “The Renovation Wave is one of the Flagship initiatives of the Green Deal” and highlight the importance of qualified installers: “We need a skilled workforce for the Renovation Wave – if you don’t have the manpower to implement on the ground, you won’t have the Renovation Wave done, in particular regarding instalment of certain equipment.” This is one of the crucial points that EuropeOn made in its answer to the Commission’s consultation on the Renovation Wave (see other news).