On 23 April, EBC Secretary General Eugenio Quintieri participated with other built environment stakeholders in a video conference call with EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson to exchange on how the upcoming Renovation Wave foreseen by the Green Deal could foster the future recovery.
The construction sector experiences a decline in private and public demand for new construction, renovation and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure. This mainly affects SMEs that usually do not have a multi-year planning but heavily rely on short-term demands for construction works. Thus, it is crucial to immediately act to limit COVID-19 impact on construction SMEs and relaunch their activity by firstly stimulating the demand for sustainable renovation.
For this reason, EBC submitted joint proposals to the European Commission together with the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI). As regards the general framework, EBC and UIPI proposed to:
- Encourage Member States to use exceptional fiscal measures in order to support the renovation of existing buildings throughout reduced VAT rates on labour intensive services in the construction sector as well as on efficient construction materials, eco bonus, etc.
- Push for building renovations to be prioritised in the adjustment proposal for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework and the European Recovery Fund, including the blending of grants and financial instruments with a specific focus on direct subsidies to help SMEs survive during the crisis
- Call on Member States to relaunch public procurement procedures regarding the construction and renovation of buildings put on hold during the COVID-19 crisis and to support public procurers in pooling financial resources
- Incentivise Member States to set up renovation support schemes in their recovery packages and support them during the implementation.
- Ensure that the sustainable renovation of buildings is included as a current and future investment conditionality for financial liquidity to Member States
On a more technical side, the two organisations proposed to:
- Engage in an EU wide programme to massify free counselling on renovation (using existing channels e.g. energy audit, renovation roadmaps, online tools to plan/sketch renovation e.g. developed under H2020, etc.)
- Monitor and map the state of play and functioning of the EU construction supply chain and establish an emergency mechanism for Member States to request support in case of lack of availability of construction products, equipment, etc. (based on the model of the Clearing House for medical equipment)
- Step up private home renovation by
- actively working with the European Investment Bank to offer financial guarantees for the aggregation of small-scale renovation projects and credit access for young people
- moving from experimentation to massification: supporting the deployment of one-stop-shops in Europe (ELENA, Project Development Assistance, etc.)
Eugenio Quintieri stated: “We are aware that the European Commission is not the only player in the current discussions but our national federations are ready to support the Commission’s position towards their respective Member States in order to influence the current negotiations. The message is straightforward: Commissioner Simson, you can fully count on our support to deliver the Renovation Wave for the Sustainable Europe of tomorrow.”
EBC will maintain regular contact with DG Energy to follow the development of actions in the field of energy efficiency and renovation works to face the impact of Covid-19.