The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) agrees with the Commission's proposal on renovation, stressing that it will improve people's well-being.
The European strategy on A Renovation Wave for Europe is an absolute necessity, and is indispensable for the European Union and its citizens. In an opinion drafted by Pierre Jean Coulon and Laurențiu Plosceanu and adopted at the February plenary session, the EESC backs the proposal on building renovation put forward by the European Commission as a way of "greening our buildings, creating jobs, and improving lives".
Accounting for 40% of total energy consumption, homes and other buildings across the EU need to undergo a renovation wave – an initiative spurred on by the European Union. This strategy is part of a holistic approach to long-term public investment, sustainable development, health protection (including the handling of asbestos in renovation work), the green transition and the effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights with regard to sustainable and affordable housing.
Commenting during the debate, Mr Coulon said:
The renovation wave strategy is a "win-win-win" for the European Union – a threefold victory for the climate, for the recovery thanks to the local jobs created, and finally for the fight against the pandemic and energy poverty, promoting sustainable housing for all, including vulnerable people.
Funding the renovation wave
In the EESC's view, the strategy needs to be set within a clear, stable and tailor-made legal and financial framework, both by deploying a dedicated European investment fund, multiannual investment plans and a new "green semester", and by establishing a specific legal framework relating for example to State aid, applicable VAT rates, public procurement, green mortgages and energy performance standards.
The EESC also calls on the Commission to put in place incentives for the development and mass roll‑out, at local level, of energy-efficiency renovation processes, and at the same time to establish a new "Erasmus for energy-efficiency renovation 2050" so as to attract young people in Europe to these new jobs of the future.
Echoing his words, Mr Plosceanu concluded by saying that
this strategy needs to bring the European Union closer to its citizens and the places where they live, and the Committee will support it and actively nourish it with its reflections and proposals. This begins with an appropriate communication campaign on the renovation schemes in force and how to access them.
The renovation wave initiative
The renovation wave initiative was published by the European Commission as part of the October 2020 package. Its objective is to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of buildings in the coming ten years. This would mean renovating at least 35 million buildings by 2030.
The renovation wave strategy is complemented by the energy poverty recommendation. The accompanying staff working document provides guidance to Member States on the interpretation of energy poverty indicators and on the best ways of defining energy poverty.