Commission’s options for a new EU budget

At its meeting last week, the European Commission set out various options – and their financial consequences – for a new long-term EU budget for its priorities after 2020. This contribution from the Commission seeks to quantify the financial impact of various possible policy choices – i.e. new priorities like migration and border control versus traditional priorities like cohesion and agriculture. Its aim is also to stimulate and accelerate the debate amongst Member States. The European Commission is expected to table its formal proposal for the next long-term EU budget in early May 2018. In the meantime, a series of public consultations is open to all stakeholders, on the priorities of the EU budget.



New guidance for sound tender procedures in EU-funded projects

Last week, the Commission published new guidance to help national, regional and local public officials dealing with EU funds to ensure efficient and transparent public procurement procedures for EU-funded projects. The guidance, available soon in all languages, covers the process from the preparation and publication of calls to the selection and evaluation of bids and contract implementation. It includes tips for avoiding mistakes, good practice and useful links and templates. In particular, it explains how to make the most out of the opportunities offered by the 2014 public procurement directives. 
The European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds are channelling over €450 billion into the EU economy over the 2014-2020 funding period, half of which is invested through public procurement.



EU Industry Day over-subscribed

The EU Industry Day to be held later this week has been way over-subscribed, leading to many disappointed industry representatives. The event for our sector, co-hosted by CECE, FIEC, EBC and Construction Products Europe, Construction – Towards an Inclusive Digital Strategy will be opened by the Bulgarian Minister of Economy Emil Karanikolov.  The session will be held at the Commission’s Covent Garden building in central Brussels and is expected to be attended by 75 participants. Anyone without a confirmed registration is unlikely to be admitted.



Employment and Social Development Quarterly Review

The European Commission has published its quarterly review on employment, which shows that employment in the EU has continued to increase, surpassing expectations. It increased by 0.3 % in the EU and 0.4 % in the euro area in the third quarter of 2017, compared with the second quarter. The number of employed people reached 236.3 million in the EU and 156.3 million in the euro area, the highest levels ever recorded.
Permanent jobs and full-time employment were the main contributors to the increase. In the year to the third quarter of 2017, the number of employees with permanent contracts grew by 1.7 %, confirming the trend of rising confidence, bolstering the demand for labour. This represents an increase of 2.8 million employees, which is three times more than the increase in temporary contracts (900.000, 3.2% annual growth).
The unemployment rates in the EU and euro area are approaching their pre-crisis values at a steady pace. The youth unemployment rate (those aged 15-24) continued to decrease steadily in the EU and in the euro area. Greece was still the country with the highest youth unemployment rate in the EU (40.8 %).
At the same time the unmet demand for labour, as expressed by the Job Vacancy Rate (JVR), has been broadly rising since the end of 2014 in the EU and the euro area.

Service sectors continued to drive employment growth in the EU, while improvements were smaller in industry and construction. However, confidence has consistently grown in construction where it reached a positive balance.