Put housing on agenda, FIEC urges

By Sarah Ann McCay15 December 2013

European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) president Thomas Schleicher has called for housing to top the agenda of a European Council meeting, following the 19th informal meeting of European Housing Ministers, which took place on 9 and 10 December in Brussels.

“I fully agree with the Housing Ministers’ statement that housing should be considered as an important factor for socio-economic recovery, a source of social and financial stability, as well as a major instrument in energy transition. Consequently, I consider that such an important issue is worth a fully fledged Council meeting, on a regular basis,” Schleicher said.

According to the Federation, the benefits of addressing housing matters are environmental, by fighting against climate change; social, by providing a better living environment with reduced costs of energy consumption for citizens; and economic, by increasing the activity in the building sector and proving employment to a skilled workforce.

FIEC pointed out that Europe’s buildings are the single biggest source of energy demand through heating and lighting. Furthermore, in spite of relevant policy, the vast majority of Europe’s housing stock is far from being zero energy, and in dire need of retrofitting.

The Federation also said that, in order to achieve its economic aims, the housing market requires a system of incentives and strategies to activate investments in renovation and new buildings.

FIEC specifically welcomed political agreement confirming that Member States were able to apply long-term reduced VAT rates to renovation services, both for private dwellings and social housing.

FIEC said, “incentives that cushion the initial outlay can help to increase the scope of renovation, making it more cost effective in the long term.”

In order to achieve social goals of providing a better living environment, FIEC called for a workforce with the adequate green skills.

“For this purpose, we need urgent investment in lifelong training, in order to allow workers to keep the pace with technical and market developments; to adapt training schemes, in order to reduce the gap between the skills available and those actually needed on the market; and to promote the mutual recognition of qualifications as a key factor for increased mobility within the EU,” FIEC said.

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