EBC welcomes the European Green Deal communication

On 11 December the European Commission published its Communication on the European Green Deal, which displays an initial roadmap of the key policies and measures needed to implement both the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. This includes the launch of new initiatives as well as the review of current legislation and policies, especially in terms of their enforcement and efficient implementation.

Eugenio Quintieri, EBC Secretary General, stresses: “The Green Deal offers a great opportunity to holistically face the EUs urgent climate and environmental challenges. However, it has to be transformed into concrete actions, to fully exploit the enormous potential of the built environment in terms of circular economy, energy efficiency, and overall sustainability. We are all engaged to establish a permanent dialogue with the European Institutions to ensure that the right combination of policy measures and targeted funding will leave no one behind, especially not our construction SMEs and craftsmen who are ready to contribute to this paradigmatic shift.

In this context, EBC considers the following points as particular interesting for construction SMEs and craftsmen:

Increase the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 and 2050

  • Proposal for a climate law which will enshrine the 2050 climate neutrality objective in legislation, ensuring that all EU policies contribute to the climate neutrality objective and that all sectors play their part. This will also include a proposal by the European Commission to cut emissions by 50-55% by 2030. (March 2020)
  • Review and possible revision, where necessary, of all climate-related policy instruments, including a possible extension of the European Emission Trading System (ETS) to “buildings”. The ETS system is a system that sets a cap for the total amount of emissions for certain greenhouse gases (reduced over time) within which companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed (limited total number of allowances). This system already applies for the production of certain construction products such as cement, metals, glass, aluminium, ceramics and steel. The possible extension foreseen in the Green Deal could include the whole building or more concretely the heating and cooling systems of buildings. (June 2021)

Mobilising industry for a clean and circular economy

  • Adoption of a new circular economy action plan
    • To stimulate the development of lead markets for climate neutral and circular products including the consideration of legal requirements to boost the market of secondary raw materials with mandatory recycled content in construction; and
    • To strengthen the extended producer responsibility, which expands the responsibility of producers to the whole life-cycle of their product, including recycling or reuse at the end of the products life. (March 2020)
  • Proposal on further legislation and guidance on green public purchasing, which refers to environmental criteria in Public Procurement. (to be determined)

Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way

  • Assessment of Member States national long-term renovation strategies to ensure that the legislation related to the energy performance of buildings is rigorously enforced. (2020)
  • Review of the Construction Products Regulation to ensure that the design of new and renovated buildings is in line with the needs of the circular economy at all stages and lead to increased digitalisation and climate-proofing of the building stock. (to be determined)

Pursuing green finance and investment and ensuring a just transition

  • Presentation of a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan which will combine dedicated financing to support sustainable investments. This is supposed to be the continuation of the current European Fund for Strategic Investment but with a stronger focus on financing environmentally friendly projects. (to be determined)
  • Proposal of 25% target for climate mainstreaming across all EU programmes.

Mobilising research and fostering innovation

  • At least 35% of the budget of Horizon Europe (proposed EUR 100 billion Research & Innovation programme to succeed Horizon 2020) will fund new solutions for the climate
  • Partnerships with Industry and Member States will support Research & Innovation on the built environment. This public-private partnership called Build4People is currently developed by different actors of the built environment at the European level with EBC taking a leading role.

Activating education and training

  • Preparation of a European Competence Framework (schools, training institutions and universities) to help develop and assess knowledge, skills and attitudes related to climate change and sustainable development. The framework will also entail the supply of support materials and facilitate the exchange of good practices in EU networks of teacher-training programmes.
  • Proposed European Social Fund+ (ESF+) is supposed to play an important role in pro-active re-skilling and upskilling. ESF+ is a more flexible and simpler version of the current European Social Fund to make sure workers have the right skills and modern social protection adapted to new forms of work.
EBC will closely follow the initiatives and policy developments related to the European Green Deal and looks forward to cooperating with the European institutions and further stakeholders on these issues, for a real shift towards a sustainable built environment and competitive construction sector.