The European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) has called on the European Commission to declare that the Covid-19 is a "force majeure" event, thereby allowing construction companies to close sites without facing contractual claims.
The federation, which represents European construction companies in Brussels, has also asked the commission to make more EU funds available to cover the increased costs of those sites that remain open.
The FIEC said in a press statement that "new and drastic health and safety measures" implemented by European governments was making the management of construction "even more complex, if not impossible", and that companies would be "heavily affected financially and projects, both private and public, will be delayed or even cancelled".
(These) are the crucial measures that the construction sector needs to survive– European Construction Industry Federation
A declaration that these measures constitute force majeure would mean that companies would find it easier to respond to Covid-19 containment measures without incurring penalties, and would have greater protection against lack of workers or disruptions to their supply chains.
The FIEC notes that the possibility of waiving delay penalties in public procurement contracts was mentioned in the Eurogroup statement of 16 March.
It adds that those projects that are co-financed by the EU should be allocated resources to cover additional costs generated by the pandemic, such as providing extra security for sites, and costs related to the disruption of work. It says the commission should encourage member states to do the same.
The statement says: "These are the first urgent and indispensable actions that we ask the commission to implement as quickly as possible. They are the crucial measures that the construction sector needs to survive and continue its contribution to growth and employment in Europe in the coming months."
Image: The European Commission’s Berlaymont building in Brussels (Andersen Pecorone/CC BY-SA 2.0)