Eugenio Quintieri, Secretary General of the European Builders Confederation (EBC), has outlined the key priorities for Construction SMEs and craftsmen in 2018. These include continued interaction and initiatives on digitalization, social affairs, energy efficiency, and standardisation.
Digitalisation: transformation should be inclusive
Digitalisation in the construction sector guarantees productivity gains, better health and safety, improved project planning, and helps to predict where bottlenecks are likely to occur and thus prevent them. Discussions on digitalisation with the European Institutions and relevant construction stakeholders will continue to be a major feature for the construction industry this year. Outlining EBC’s 2018 aims, Quintieri said: “The construction sector has a huge potential to reap the benefits offered by digitalization processes. However, we need to guarantee that the process includes the vast majority of SMEs composing the sector, that have a limited investment capacity. This will thus be one of the main issues discussed at the event we co-organise on 22 February with the other main players of the sector in the context of the EU Industry Days 2018”.
Social affairs: a better legislative framework to fight social dumping
Social affairs represent a wide policy area and has a major impact on the construction sector which is a highly labour intensive sector. Entrepreneurs in certain cases need common rules at European level to prevent undeclared work, bogus self-employment and social dumping, foremost in the application of the Internal Market freedoms. Quintieri emphasised: “2018 is a crucial year to fight social dumping in the construction sector. EBC will continue to push for a more social Europe through a fair level playing field for construction SMEs and craftsmen. We really hope that the current revision of the social legislative framework will offer better rules on posting of workers and the coordination of social security systems”.
Energy and environment: seizing the potential of the renovation market
Energy use in the buildings sector (residential and commercial) is responsible for about 40% of final energy consumption in the EU and hence offers great possibilities for reduction. The renovation market, especially in private housing, becomes more and more valuable for micro, small and medium sized construction enterprises. These activities create numerous skilled jobs and are vital for many entrepreneurs. Quintieri commented: “The agreements on the revised EPBD and EED will offer important opportunities to our companies. However, we need to make sure that these legislative changes will be followed up by a relevant uptake from the market by means of a proper implementation”.
Standardisation: more and better participation for Construction SMEs
Standardisation is unavoidable for all companies who want to access the Internal Market with the CE marking. Nevertheless, the whole standardisation process is not easily accessible due to linguistic barriers, technical and financial difficulties that make SMEs’ participation very complicated. “SMEs need to be given a voice to defend their interests in the creation of and access to standards. We need to make sure that the European Union keeps supporting the successful examples of participation of SMEs in the standardisation process. The concrete example of this is Small Business Standards (SBS). Another important issue in regard to standardisation is the current revision of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) which should allow to overcome the existing challenges with the text of the regulation itself, and with its application.”
2018 EBC Annual Conference in Paris
Finally, EBC is very much looking forward to this year’s Annual Conference, which will be hosted by CAPEB on 28th & 29th June 2018, in the context of BATIMAT 2018, the building industry’s leading international trade show. This is EBC’s showpiece event and a unique occasion when EBC’s diverse range of SMEs and craftsmen comes together.