Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

EU slowdown hits construction

EUROPE'S ECONOMIC slowdown, member states' budget constraints and the conflict in Iraq are likely to be obstacles to any recovery in construction activity in the European Union during 2003.

Construction across Europe was worth $900bn in 2002, growing only 0.6% on 2001. This stagnation is set to continue, according to the latest figures from the European Construction Industry Federation, FIEC. It predicts that even if the knockon effects of the Iraq conflict do not worsen 'an already gloomy economic climate', activity will grow by a mere 0.5%.

Some countries continued to be buoyant in 2002. The UK market grew by 8.1% due to large scale public investment. Spain also had a good year, up 4.6% because of infrastructure investment.

Others did not fare so well, notably Germany, with a fall of 5.8%, following a 6.1% drop in 2001. The German construction industry saw more than 4,500 bankruptcies during the first six months of 2002 and employment in the sector fell by 10%.

Forecasts for 2003 vary considerably across Europe. Some countries are expected to experience falls in activity, including Germany (-2.5%), France (-0.7%), the Netherlands (-2.4%), Belgium (-1.5%) and Denmark (-1.2%).

There will be a slowdown in those with recent sustained growth, such as the UK (+4.4%), Italy (+1.7%) and Spain (+3.8%).

Any growth is likely to come from the civil engineering and non-residential construction sectors, because of more sustained intervention by the public sector in several countries.

The most significant changes in 2002 took place in Portugal and Ireland.

In Portugal, a 2.2% fall in activity is expected this year because of a decline in public-sector investment and the removal of some credit-support tax measures. Investments relating to the Euro 2004 football championships should bring some improvement.

Ireland's drop of 5.4% is attributed to a sharp fall in private non-residential construction and delays in the launch of several infrastructure projects.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.