Nature Restoration Law: FIEC calls for more flexibility for Member States and cities

In its Position Paper published on 23rd February, FIEC – while not questioning the overarching objective of the proposal to restore and protect ecosystems and stop the loss of biodiversity – calls on EU stakeholders to ensure that the Nature Restoration Law is compatible with other urgent societal “interests”, such as affordable housing, the construction of new infrastructure, or the construction of facilities that are needed to produce fossil-free energy.It also calls on EU lawmakers to ensure that there are exemptions for Member States and certain urban areas, for example for cities that expect a substantial demographic and economic growth or are already struggling with scarce residential space.

FIEC also reminds the Members of the European Parliament and the Council delegates that urban spatial planning is, first and foremost, a regional or local competence.

Far-reaching nature restoration measures are foreseen in the proposal.

According to Art. 6, Member States should ensure that there is no net loss of urban green space and of urban tree canopy cover by 2030, compared to 2021, in “all cities and in towns and suburbs”. In addition, Member States shall ensure that there is an increase in the total national area of urban green space in cities (and in towns and suburbs) of at least 3% of the total area of cities (and of towns and suburbs) in 2021, by 2040, and at least 5% by 2050.

Finally, EU countries shall ensure a net gain of urban green space that is integrated into existing and new buildings and infrastructure developments, “including through renovations and renewals”, in all cities, towns, and suburbs.



Study shows that draft Taxonomy criteria are not “market-ready”

A study conducted by DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council), the Green Building Council Denmark and other partners and published on 22nd February on the proposed Circular Economy criteria for building and construction shows that the draft criteria put forward by the Platform on Sustainable Finance in March 2022 (“Tax04 report”) are not “market-ready”.The proposed criteria for building activities were applied to 38 real building case studies. Out of these 38 buildings, 35 buildings were assessed against the criteria for the construction of new buildings and 3 buildings were assessed against the renovation criteria.

According to the study’s executive summary, “…the overarching result of the study (is) that neither the 35 new construction projects nor the 3 renovation projects could be classified as aligned with the EU Taxonomy criteria for circular economy” due to aspects at organisational and structural level.

The proposed criteria defining material quotas for using 15% reused and 15% recycled materials and a combination of reused, recycled, or responsibly sourced renewable materials for around 20% of materials calculated by weight or surface seem to be particularly challenging: According to the study results, around 65% of the projects were not able to fulfill the quotas.

The authors conclude that “there is a risk that only the other environmental objectives (i.e., the existing Climate Delegated Act) will be implemented, as the screening criteria for circularity are very ambitious (…) and challenging in terms of large-scale application (…).”.



Construction Blueprint – Final Dissemination Event


The final dissemination event of the Erasmus+ funded project Construction Blueprint – “A new sectoral strategic approach to cooperate on skills in the construction industry” took place on 22nd February in Brussels.

On this occasion the final findings and outcomes of this 4-year project were presented in three roundtable discussions with high-level panelists dedicated to the skills for digitalisation, circular economy and energy efficiency in construction. In addition, a session dedicated to the Pact for Skills in Construction presented the opportunities it could offer to public and private stakeholders for quality investment in Vocational and Educational Training (VET).

The European Commissioner for Jobs and Social rights, Nicolas Schmit, opened the event, and highlighted that “The construction sector faces serious labour shortages and needs more qualified workers. For workers this means investing in their skills, for their own benefit and also for the benefit of the company. It is important to make the construction sector more attractive, especially for young people.”

In the framework of the Blueprint project, and through the creation of a Sector Skills Alliance (SSA), key European sectoral organisations and VET providers cooperated to develop innovative instruments to address skills gaps and shortages and to match skills demand and supply, while supporting the transition towards a sustainable construction sector.

To join the Pact for Skills in Construction, click here!


FIEC publishes its position on proposed DEBRA Directive

On 27th February, FIEC published its Position Paper on the European Commission’s proposal for a Council Directive on Rules on a Debt-Equity Bias Reduction Allowance (DEBRA).The overall aim of the proposal is to create a level playing field for debt and equity by encouraging companies to finance their investment through equity contributions rather than through debt financing.

While FIEC welcomes the objectives of the Commission’s proposal, it warns that the proposed provisions could have several counterproductive effects, especially with respect to the financing of companies and of infrastructure projects. This is even more concerning in a context of inflation, rapidly increasing interest rates and the risk of significant disruptions to the economy caused by geopolitical events.



Eurobridge conference 2023

It is estimated that Europe has about 800.000 road bridges. Some countries like France have one every 5 kilometres. The social and economic value of these bridges is substantial.

While roads have their surfaces restored every 15 years on average, the structure health of bridges is often neglected. Whether it is made of stone masonry, reinforced concrete or metal, these structures age and degrade due to repeated loads and poor weather. The load-bearing capacity of bridges decreases regularly, to the point of putting those who use them in real danger.

Bridges are fragile structures. Their malfunctioning can jeopardise an entire region. It is therefore of utmost necessity to regularly maintain bridges, ensuring they provide the same level service during their lifetime.

We know what the appropriate methods are, we just need to implement them.

The EUROBRIDGE 2023 conference will take place in Brussels on April 14. Registrations are open!