Concrete & construction - an engine for growth!
The financial crisis has taken its toll on Europe and its citizens and, although there are some glimpses of growth, the EU still has a long way to go. It is therefore essential for the EU to focus on key sectors which can contribute towards job creation and economic growth. In this respect, the construction sector clearly has a lot to offer. It is the greatest industrial employer in Europe with some 20 million jobs – this is an important figure particularly when taking into account a recent European Commission analysis which concludes that one job created in construction translates into the creation of two additional jobs elsewhere. In addition, the construction sector is the largest single economic activity in Europe. Indeed, for every €1 spent on construction output a total of €3 are generated in total economic activity (GDP increase).
Concrete is a key component of the construction sector. As a whole, the concrete industry employs some 550 000 people in the EU and generates approximately €65 000 added value per employed capita per annum. Concrete is also anchored in Europe’s local economy as it is a local business, employing local people, with a local production value. The components that go into making concrete – aggregates, cement, and water - are also sourced locally.
So what can be done to harness the economic benefits of concrete and construction as a whole? The concrete industry is willing to commit to working with policy-makers and relevant stakeholders to foster advances in the knowledge and understanding relating to the economics of sustainable construction, to identify barriers and to explore new models. In addition, it has also identified a need for the sector to engage with education institutes to ensure that the workforce (current and future) is equipped with the right skills. However, policymakers also need to play their part – in this respect, and in relation to sustainable construction, the following policy requirements have been identified:
- Recognise that EU industrial policies and standards must look at the performance of buildings or infrastructure projects, and not favour one material over another.
- Allow the full economic benefits of all materials to be gained by further developing the Green Public Procurement Guidelines and criteria that include whole-life performance and durability.
- Recognise the concrete industry as an essential sector in the European Commission’s mid-term review of industrial policy, and ensure equal and long-term access to resources and energy to allow the European industry to compete globally.