Out with the old and in with the new: EuropeOn’s 2020 recap from President Gérard Constantin

2020 is finally over, and while the year’s crises are not yet over, we can cautiously start to look forward to a return to some normality and to better times. While we can’t wait for vaccines to hopefully pull us out of the Covid quagmire, the recovery of our economy is still being debated and a return to normal could easily lead to increased emissions, compared to the drop we have seen in 2020. However, for electrical contractors, the societal changes initiated in 2020, following lockdown measures, could lead to more and better sectoral growth in the years to come.  

Electrical work has been considered essential in many EU states and regions, meaning electrical contractors could keep working and did not have to halt operations on ongoing projects. Governments, often in cooperation with EuropeOn member associations, issued guidance for Covid-compliant ways to behave on worksites. EuropeOn member associations have also then assisted their member companies in implementing the guidance and making  the most out of this situation. Surprisingly, in some countries there are reports of enhanced productivity on worksites, especially because of the more structured interactions required by distancing measures. Additionally, our member associations have made the best of streamlined digital tools by offering online top-up courses and lifelong learning opportunities.

Affiliated electrical contracting companies could actually have a chance of coming out of 2020 in a better position. Indeed, the ‘shock therapy’ induced by the pandemic could be seen as an opportunity to start fresh in some areas and to implement changes now that lockdown measures have provided a fertile ground for progressive approaches to productivity to take root. This is why EuropeOn will be publicly presenting its latest study, titled “Business opportunities since Covid-19: Electrical contractors at the forefront of a green & digital recovery for Europe” in the coming days (see other news).

However, there are rising fears that work orders could stall dramatically in 2021 as a delayed consequence of the economic crisis. Fortunately, at EuropeOn we look forward to the EU’s renewed regulatory focus on energy and climate. With the revisions of major Clean Energy Package measures scheduled in 2021, we have an opportunity to drive an economic recovery that will benefit electrical contractors, all 1.8 million of them, but also our climate. With the upcoming adoption of the Climate Law, which will see the EU move towards at least a 55% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030, the Commission has already announced these revisions as part of a new ‘Fit for 55’ package that should align EU climate and energy policies with this new objective.

We must now ensure that we do not miss this chance to provide the needed economic stimulus to recover, but without the expected emissions increase. It is paramount that these 2021 revisions give electrification the regulatory boost it needs to address economic recovery and emissions in an integrated way, with the added benefit of enabling widespread digitalisation. This means supporting the technological and infrastructural aspects of electrifications but also the human capital making this transition happen on the ground, across European regions. Recovery Plans must offer the adequate up- and re-skilling opportunities to match our necessary climate ambitions.

While we eagerly wait for the climate and energy milestones of 2021, we turn to our President Gérard Constantin’s recap of the past year and wishes for the current.