Construction materials: Rising prices are disrupting the recovery of construction SMEs and of the EU

Despite a health context that seems to be improving slightly in Europe, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is still being strongly felt. This is particularly true in certain sectors, including construction, which is suffering from a lack of availability and a worrying increase in the price of the materials needed for its proper functioning. SMEs in the construction sector are calling on the European Commission to carry out a thorough examination of the situation and to intervene quickly, within the limits of their capacities, when necessary.

During the past year, construction companies have very often reported that they were undergoing harsh difficulties regarding two intertwined issues:

  • A sharp rise in the prices of several construction products and raw materials.
  • A lack of construction materials on the market.

The ongoing increase in prices experienced across EU member states, paired with a scarcity of several materials, has generated significant problems to our construction SMEs and crafts. Indicatively, the prices of materials such as metals, timber, cement, slab, and plastics – including the construction products made from such materials – have seen a soaring increase compared to the pre-Covid period.

In this context, EBC has been closely monitoring the situation and working hand-in hand with its membership, to secure a clear view of the situation in the construction products market and its impact it on construction sites across Europe. The comprehensive data we have collected from our members is accessible via this link.

According to national associations of craftsmen and construction SMEs, despite local specificities, many construction SMEs have documented that their daily activities have been significantly suffering due to this ongoing situation. Several of them have addressed specific requests to their respective national, regional and/or local authorities to identify solutions to mitigate the undesired effects.

In this regard, EBC and its construction SMEs call on the European Commission to closely examine the situation and intervene within the limits of its competence. It is indeed necessary to acknowledge the distress caused by high prices and scarce materials to the multitude of actors of the construction value chain across Europe, while disproportionately affecting SMEs.

In particular, it is paramount to ensure that the objectives of the Green Deal and the Renovation Wave are safeguarded. The unprecedented financial support put forward by the EU to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, could be rendered insignificant for European citizens, if it is eventually used to cover the consequences of the prices increase. Such a scenario would be a real threat, as it could result in the partial derailment of the National Recovery Plans.

Vigilance and flexibility from public authorities and all relevant stakeholders need to be ensured to identify and trigger the necessary targeted responses with a view to supporting on the ground the construction SMEs in difficulty because of this market disruption. We invite the Commission to work with all European, national, regional, and local stakeholders, to make sure the right solutions are found.

To see the full table listing EBC members actions to mitigate the problems of rising prices for construction materials, please click here.