CECE and FIEC call for investment
By Sandy Guthrie17 May 2012
Investment in transport, energy and telecom infrastructure, as well as in the energy efficiency of buildings is seen as essential for growth and jobs, according to two of Europe's leading industry bodies.
CECE (the Committee for European Construction Equipment) represents and promotes European construction equipment and related industries, with 16 national associations from 14 countries. FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation) has 33 national member federations in 29 countries (27 EU & EFTA, Croatia and Turkey) and represents construction enterprises of all sizes.
At a round-table discussion this week, CECE and FIEC said that to strengthen European competitiveness, delivery of this much needed investment must no longer be delayed.
At the dinner-debate on Infrastructure, Growth & Manufacturing, organised on 15 May by the European Forum for Manufacturing (EFM) in the European Parliament, Ralf Wezel, CECE secretary general, said, "Our industry looks forward to the implementation of the right policies and incentives to nurture sustainable growth and jobs."
The discussion, sponsored by FIEC and CECE within the framework of the EFM, allowed the industry to talk openly with representatives of the EU institutions directly involved in the legislative procedures on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the revision of the Trans-European infrastructure networks (transport, energy and telecoms).
Both of these are currently under discussion in the European Parliament (EP) and Council.
MEP Dominique Riquet, co-rapporteur of the leading EP Committee TRAN, said, "CEF is one of the most relevant tools we have in the current debate between stability and growth.
"It has a potential for creating jobs in the industries related to infrastructure building and operation, as well as in the service industries more generally. Well-functioning transport, energy and ICT (information and communications technology) networks are also an asset for the rest of the economy and help the machinery industry to develop innovative products while raising the competitiveness of the EU as a whole".
Other participants from EU institutions included Bertel Dons Christensen from the Danish Presidency, and Matthias Ruete, the director general of the Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility & Transport (DG MOVE).
CECE and FIEC said they recognised the enormous benefits which the CEF could bring, and called on the EP and the Council to support the European manufacturing and construction industries in their efforts to contribute to growth and jobs by securing at least the funds foreseen in the EC proposal.
The chairman of FIEC's Working Group on PPPs (public-private partnerships) and Concessions, Vincent Piron, said that the construction industry strongly supported the Commission's financial proposal amounting to €50 billion for the 2014 to 2020 period.
He also stressed that "this amount is the bare minimum and must not be cut in the negotiations on the future EU financial perspective for 2014 to 2020 as has been the case in the past".
Both CECE and FIEC agree on the urgency of securing proper levels of public investment from national and local budgets, which should be backed by the earmarking of revenues - for example, from the Eurovignette - a strong European regional policy and an ambitious lending policy from the European Investment Bank.
Ralf Wezel reiterated CECE and FIEC's support for a healthy balance between public and private investment in this field.
He said, "Innovative financial instruments proposed by the Commission, such as Project Bonds, are welcome but, given restricted access to credit, they cannot replace an effective policy of long-term public investment."
FIEC director general Ulrich Paetzold recalled that "several major infrastructure projects have been cancelled or delayed, with the risk to Europe's future competiveness and standard of living".
He continued that "as a result of the crisis, fiscal consolidation is necessary, however this should not negatively impact on infrastructure investment in the discussions on the next EU multi-annual financial framework".
He added, "Rekindling growth in Europe will only come with a coherent vision for long-term investment in vital infrastructure".