The EESC considers the construction sector to be a vital player in bringing down the EU's demand for energy.
The construction sector does not need direct financial support such as subsidies, but a proper policy and regulatory framework.
Investment in sustainable buildings and infrastructure is necessary in order to secure Europe's future growth and job prospects.
Investment in sustainable buildings and vital infrastructure should be seen as a strategic contributor to future economic growth and jobs. Such investment should not be used in the calculation of a country’s performance with relation to the Stability and Growth Pact.
There is a huge potential to reduce demand for energy through renovating the EU's ageing building stock in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and reduce energy demand by 20%. Countries have to ensure that adequate financial and fiscal incentives are in place to drive the market towards greater energy savings.
There is a further huge challenge of upgrading Europe's transport, energy and broadband infrastructure to meet the needs of future generations and ensure Europe's international competitiveness and attractiveness as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The Late Payment Directive must be properly enforced to ensure the survival of companies. Notably those countries that have hitherto had shorter payment periods should not use the directive’s derogations to increase these periods. In this framework, the EESC recommends that a 30 day payment period should be the maximum permitted for invoice payments (including acceptance and verification).
Financial prudential rules such as those put forward under the Basel III agreement should not lead to a further curb in lending by banks to the real economy.
The Action Plan should also include strategies to stabilise employment and fight unlawful practices such as false self-employment in the sector.
Independently of the form of employment, incentives need to be put into place for up-skilling the workforce and offering life-long learning possibilities.
Circumventing the rules and social obligations distorts the construction market. A level playing field for competition must therefore be secured, based on compliance with the existing regulations and social conditions in force in the host country.
The EESC calls on the European institutions and the Members States to strengthen policies and take concrete actions against the influence of corruption and criminal organisations on public tenders mainly on large infrastructure projects.
The promotion of the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (instead of the "lowest price"), as well as a consistent approach to rejecting abnormally low tenders are essential pillars of efficient and fair competition.