Construction SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and craftsmen need an enabling political and financial framework that gives them the means to build a durable Europe, the EBC (European Builders Confederation) said as it launched its manifesto for the 2019 to 2024 European legislative term.
The EBC represents SMEs and craftsmen in Europe, where elections to the European Parliament will be taking place in May.
The confederation said that its proposals and requests aimed truly to value construction SMEs for what they were – “not only the backbone of the construction sector, but of the whole European economy”.
EBC president Rinaldo Incerpi said, “Construction SMEs are vital to improve the life of European citizens. But to do that, the support of the European Union is still crucial.
“We are prepared and ready to discuss our ideas for the next term with the European Institutions and further stakeholders in order to build the sustainable Europe of tomorrow.”
The EBC said that the construction sector was a fundamental component of Europe’s economic growth and a major source of employment. It pointed out that it generated about 9% of GDP (gross domestic product) in the European Union, and provided 18 million direct jobs.
“But the construction sector is also at the heart of our life,” the manifesto said. “Construction enterprises build the homes we live in, the roads we travel on and the schools we learn in. European citizens spend over 90% of their time indoors, meaning that our health and well-being strongly depends on how our buildings are built, maintained and renovated.”
It added that this would not be possible without the micro, small and medium-sized European construction enterprises and craftsmen that made up 99.9% of the sector.
“After a long financial crisis,” it said, “construction SMEs are on the path to recovery, but stronger support from the European Union is still essential.
“Both the European Parliament and the European Commission must focus on improving the political environment and economic framework to truly value construction SMEs for what they are – the backbone of the economy.”
The manifesto said that an enabling framework was needed that would empower construction SMEs and craftsmen to build a sustainable Europe, defined by inclusive economic growth, sustainable buildings, and more, better and safer jobs.
Other issues were said to be a fair internal market, suitable standards, and a digital single market.
The manifesto explains in more depth how these aims can be achieved, including creating a digital single market. It called for support of the digitalisation of the construction value chain to empower SMEs and craftsmen. It said there was a need to ensure that the European Union took the political lead on digital construction to allow SMEs to reap the benefits of digitalisation.
It called for the guarantee of an appropriate financial framework to develop digital tools adapted to SME needs, and to upskill workers in the field of digitalisation. It would also like to see the provision of an appropriate regulatory framework on data policy in order to assure data quality and management.