Rising prices: EBC meets with DG GROW Director for Construction G. Cozigou

On Monday 24 October, an EBC delegation made of EBC President Philip van Nieuwenhuizen, EBC Board members Alice Lazioli and Elisa Vitella respectively from ANAEPA-Confartigianato and CNA Costruzioni, and EBC Secretary General Fernando Sigchos Jiménez met with Mr Gwenole Cozigou, Director for Construction, Machinery and Standardisation in DG GROW, Mr Hein Bollens, Deputy Head of Unit Construction, and Mr Pieter Staelens, Policy Officer, to discuss EBC proposals to face the rising energy, material, and fuel prices.

This meeting is part of the European Commission’s response to the letter sent by EBC last May, which warned of the slowdown and even suspension of construction activities due to the increasing price of fuel, energy, and construction materials.

Currently, European institutions are still debating what additional measures to take to help Europe cope with the energy impact of the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, our construction SMEs are voicing their concerns and requests to prevent the stoppage of fundamental activities to complete the Renovation wave.

The exchange was built around 5 arguments presented by EBC, based on the feedback received from members:

  1. The need for more streamlined supporting measures and temporary aid from Member states to SMEs to face the increasing fuel, energy, and materials costs and keep a level playing field
  2. The need for energy cost caps at European level, including for gas
  3. Compensations and contract adjustments by contracting authorities are necessary to reflect the increases in material prices under existing contracts
  4. The need for Member States to consider further lowering VAT to boost renovation and construction EU-wide
  5. The need for collecting and publishing frequent economic data on the impact on materials prices, notably through the creation of an observatory/watchtower of the prices of most strategic construction material and products

The Commission was very attentive to EBC’s calls for action, recalling that the State Aid Temporary Emergency Framework gives a wide scope for action to Member States, which are free to set up aid programmes targeting SMEs and construction SMEs if they so wish. Additionally, the Commission explained ongoing works on public procurement, investment guarantee schemes and an index to keep track of prices of construction products.

The European Commission is currently continuing its consultation of EU Member States on the prolongation and adjustment of the Temporary Framework for State Aid. Amendments to the program are considered, notably additional adjustments to further allow Member States to provide direct support to companies affected by high energy prices.

EBC continues to follow closely all developments of the aid and compensation framework envisaged at European level, pushing for a strategic consideration for the construction sector and its SMEs, thanks notably to the constructive dialogue established with Mr Cozigou.

To read the EBC letter on rising material and energy prices sent to EC President U. von der Leyen and Executive Vice President F. Timmermans, click here