This year’s annual conference of the European Historic Houses Association EHHA focused on Education, Training and Innovation for Better Management of Historic Buildings. EBC President Patrick Liébus spoke in a panel about the work done by small and medium construction companies regarding cultural heritage.
The discussion covered several aspects. One of them was the importance to train workers and entrepreneurs to gain competences related to the specific nature of historic buildings. Currently there are several initiatives proposed by the European Commission on Vocational Education & Training – in which EBC takes part – such as the European Alliance for Apprenticeship and a pilot project on the long-term mobility of apprentices launched by MEP Jean Arthuis. However, a specific EU-funded project on these specific needs could further help with the training of professionals.
Another key topic was the possible introduction of a reduced VAT rate for renovation works in historic buildings. The construction sector has a very positive experience regarding the reduced VAT rates that apply to housing maintenance and renovation works. They increase the demand for this kind of works, boosting energy retrofitting in buildings and jobs. They also have a positive impact on law-abiding businesses, because they reduce the competitive advantage of firms operating in the informal economy.
These topics will become even more relevant during the European Year for Cultural Heritage, foreseen in 2018, with the idea of an EBC-EHHA cooperation launched by Patrick Liébus at the end of his speech.