Hit by the financial crisis, the EU’s construction sector has lost 14 percent of its work force and nine percent of investment since 2008.
The European Commission has released a five-point strategy plan, and is asking member states to negotiate how much from the recently-approved 120 billion euro ‘Pact for Growth and Jobs’ will be used to kickstart a sector that employs 40 million people.
“Providing an exact figure is really very complicated. The sector represents 10 percent of GDP. Therefore, I think, generally at least 10 percent of the money from the Pact can be used towards the construction industry. This is an area that we have identified as one that must work even if much help is needed,” said Antonio Tajani, EU Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship.
One proposal focuses on renovations for energy efficiency. That is what is happening at a 1960s building which will become the headquarters of the Belgian federal police.
However, for construction companies, there is a feeling that the credit shortage should be the Commission’s priority.
“In lots of countries, viable companies are being led to bankrupcy simply through not be able to get bridging loans from their banks,” said Frank Faraday of the European Construction Industry Federation.
euronews correspondent Isabel Marques da Silva, in Brussels, said: “To small and medium size enterprises in the construction sector, public support is a “vitamin” that they’ll gladly accept. But in order for the industry to really move forward, it requires credit for companies and individuals, and the current situation in the financial markets does not provide much hope.”