On 4 October, at the occasion of the combined EBC Board of Directors and General Assembly, EBC members had the opportunity to meet and discuss the most critical issues that currently impact the day-to-day activities of their construction micro companies, SMEs and craftsmen. Additionally, they exchanged with Ms Katharina Knapton-Vierlich, recently appointed Head of the Construction Unit at DG Grow of the European Commission, and Ms Maitane Olabarria, Secretary General of Small Business Standards SBS.
Unsurprisingly, the continuing rise in energy and materials prices remains a major concern, with difficulties in projecting activity beyond 6 to 12 months, as manifested by all national associations of construction SMEs at the EBC Board of Directors meeting held in the morning. In addition to this, wage indexations are putting the financial stability, and even the viability, of small construction companies under intense pressure.
Other topics such as circularity in construction, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive or the EU’s solar energy ambitions were addressed in a chapter dedicated to environmental issues. In addition, there was a discussion on the developments in the European Parliament on the proposed revision of the Construction Products Regulation, as well as on digitalisation issues, including digital building logbooks. The recent Commission proposal on the directive on exposure to asbestos in the workplace, but also the need to continue to promote the Skills Pact were discussed.
In the afternoon, at EBC General Assembly, EBC was honoured to count on the presence of Ms Knapton-Vierlich. During her speech, she expressed her appreciation for the continuous collaboration over the years and notably thanked EBC for co-chairing the High Level Construction Forum session on the digitalisation transition. She underlined her willingness to collaborate with construction stakeholders, notably in the context of the Roadmap for the transition pathways towards a green, digital, and resilient construction ecosystem, which is expected to be published in early 2023. She also mentioned the CPR and the importance of a legal framework that facilitates the free movement of construction products, while accelerating the digitalisation and greening of European buildings. She concluded her intervention highlighting the need to collect data on the challenges in the supply of materials, and the importance of continuing to improve the skills panorama in the sector.
Likewise, EBC was pleased to hear Ms Olabarria explain the mission of SBS as the representative of SMEs in the standardisation community. Saluting the great collaboration between EBC and SBS, she emphasized that SBS aims at facilitating the participation of SME experts in European Standardisation Organisations, promoting and defending politically the interests of SMEs in standardisation-related fora, and raising awareness on the added-value of standards to SME businesses.
The Brussels-based EBC Secretariat thanks all participants and looks forward to the 2023 EBC Annual Congress foreseen next July in the Netherlands.