Representatives of the construction industry at European level have called for a ‘holistic approach’ in the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme. They call for the EU to set up a Co-programmed European Partnership on the Built Environment and Construction.
At an event organised by CECE at the Bauma trade fair public officials from the European Commission’s DG Connect, DG Research, DG GROW and EASME presented and discussed with industry the key topic of R&D funding opportunities for construction at the European level.
A joint paper produced by industry partners CECE and ECCREDI (the European Council for Construction Research, Development and Innovation) highlighted the fact that construction underpins all key European Union policy goals. In fact, construction is at the crossroads of different economic sectors and essential to all human daily activities. The significance of the sector is reflected in its ability to respond to the multi-faceted main challenges of the European Union: jobs, digital economy, energy efficiency, Circular Economy, climate change, demographic changes, health and safety, etc.
This promising future that we want to offer European citizens, the report argues, depends on the modernisation of the built environment. This means that the transformation of the built environment and of the construction sector must be a priority in Horizon Europe in order to build the sustainable Europe of tomorrow.
To cope with the disruptive pace of digitalisation and to capitalise on its potential we need a holistic approach in Horizon Europe that will encourage cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-border collaboration.
The construction sector welcomes the three-pillar approach proposed for Horizon Europe by the European Commission and in particular the important link between Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness. However, we believe that a holistic approach amongst the different clusters of this Pillar should be guaranteed by creating a Co-programmed European Partnership on the Built Environment and Construction. In fact, EU industrial competitiveness and the Sustainable Development Goals underpinned by the five clusters cannot be achieved without a holistic approach that focuses on the lives of people in the built environment and on essential infrastructure.
In particular, the Co-programmed European Partnership on the Built Environment and Construction would ensure that strategic planning is thorough and effective and achieves the research and innovation missions of Pillar 2.
A Co-programmed European Partnership on the Built Environment and Construction will also ensure that the crucial Horizon Europe mission of creating climate neutral and smart cities will be supported by prioritised investment, creating more impact as a result of a systemic approach and aligned instruments and agendas for research and innovation across Europe.
The Co-programmed European Partnership on the Built Environment and Construction will moreover ensure effective and operational synergies with other Union programmes, in order to increase the leverage of Union funding for a more effective science-policy interface. It will address policy needs and promote faster dissemination and uptake of research and innovation results. Programmes in the scope of the partnership’s activities include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF+), Single Market Programme, Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), Digital Europe Programme (DEP), Erasmus Programme and the InvestEU Fund.
In particular, the Co-programmed European Partnership on the Built Environment and Construction will make sure that useful technologies developed under the framework of Horizon Europe will be swiftly adopted in the market at all levels and used by appropriately retrained professionals, workers and companies with the help of the right blending of funding and financial instruments.
Finally, we strongly believe that the Co-programmed European Partnership on the Built Environment and Construction will facilitate the creation of Digital Innovation Hubs2 with a specific focus on construction.