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Brussels, 31 July 2012
Construction: unleashing the potential of low energy
buildings to restore growth
Low energy buildings with high CO2 and energy cost saving potential still have a limited
market uptake, despite their economic and environmental advantages. Construction
comprises of more than 10% of total employment in the EU. Therefore, to promote the
construction sector as a driving force in the creation of jobs and for sustained growth for
the economy in general, the European Commission tabled today a strategy to boost the
Its main elements include stimulating favourable investment conditions, in particular in the
renovation and maintenance of buildings. For example, encouraging the take up of the
package of up to €120 billion in loans available from the European Investment Bank (EIB)
as part of June's Pact for Growth and Employment. Secondly, boosting innovation and
improving worker's qualifications by promoting mobility. Thirdly, improving resource
efficiency, by promoting mutual recognition of sustainable construction systems in the EU.
Fourthly, providing standard design codes of practice to construction companies making it
easier for them to work in other Member States. Finally, fostering the global position of
European construction enterprises to stimulate good performance and sustainable
construction standards in third countries.
The European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and
Entrepreneurship, said: "In the current severe economic and social crisis, low energy
buildings are safe and viable investments for society and private investors. The
construction sector should see this as an opportunity to innovate and attract new talent.
New technologies offer major potential, not only for new houses, but also for renovating
millions of existing buildings to make them highly energy efficient in line with the EU 2020
objectives. Let's not miss this opportunity. The construction sector can become a driver of
sustainable growth.”
Why does the EU need a construction strategy?
the financial and economic crisis has meant building and infrastructure work fell
by 17% between January 2008 and April 2012 across the EU-27
the burst of the housing bubble has continued to significantly reduce activity in
the sector, generating unemployment
the contraction of credit markets and late payment practices put further
pressure on construction enterprises' solvency
the sector is in constant need of skilled labour
the introduction of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB), as announced in the
recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, will be a major challenge
for the construction sector
efforts to improve energy efficiency and to integrate renewable energy
sources are progressing slowly, in particular in the renovation of existing buildings
the situation in international markets is critical for EU operators. Difficulties arise
from the competition conditions in other countries such as less stringent social and
environmental requirements. Non-EU operators also benefit from state aid , e.g. in
China, which limit the opportunities for EU operators to access these markets.
Next steps
A High Level Forum will be arranged with Member States and sectoral representatives to
oversee the implementation of the strategy and make recommendations on any necessary
adjustments or new initiatives to be launched. In parallel, thematic and other groups will
discuss various approaches for the implementation of specific initiatives, appraise the
likely effects of existing actions at national and sectorial level on the specific initiatives and
identify opportunities for synergies.
Construction is a crucial sector for the European economy, generating almost 10% of EU
GDP and providing 20 million jobs, mainly in micro and small enterprises. Competitiveness
in the construction sector can significantly influence the development of the overall
economy. Buildings' energy performance and resource efficiency in manufacturing,
transport and the use of products to construct buildings and infrastructures have an
important impact on Europeans' quality of life. The competitiveness of construction
companies is therefore an important issue, not only for growth and employment in general
but also to ensure the sector's sustainability.
For more information see MEMO/12/610.
More information
Contacts :
Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52)
Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)