European construction slowing

By Chris Sleight15 May 2008

New data from Eurostat, the European Union's statistical office shows construction activity slowed late in 2007. Although the figures are incomplete, what data there is indicates activity in Western Europe shrank, and that the overall total was only kept in positive territory by strong growth among the EU's newer member states.

Figures for the year to November 2007, the most recent month for which information is available, show that overall construction activity in the EU27 was up +0,8% compared to November 2006. However, activity among the EU15 - essentially Western Europe - was -0,8% lower in November than a year previously.

The data for the year to November is incomplete, but what information there is points to a continuing boom among the EU's central and eastern European Member states. Activity in Poland, the region's largest construction market was up +11,1%, while Romania was up a massive +32,6% and Slovenia saw a +0,1% rise.

This is in sharp contrast to some of the larger markets in Western Europe. Following a strong recovery in 2006, Eurostat says construction output is shrinking again in Germany. Figures show that activity was -6,3% lower in November 2007 than it was a year previously, and quarterly data indicates the market slipped into recession as early as the second quarter of last year.

Another major market seeing a downturn is Spain, which like Germany saw activity levels fall -6,2% lower in November last year than they were the previous year. The Spanish market has seen some big month-to-month variations in construction output, but data fro the third quarter for last year would seem to indicate a contraction in activity.

On the positive side, the French construction market continues to grow. It was up +2,8% in November compared to the previous year. Of the other ‘Big 5' countries, full data for Italy and the UK is not available, but quarterly statistics show both these construction markets were in positive territory as of the end of September.

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