Insight into Construction in Belgium by the European Construction Sector Observatory
Productivity in building construction in Belgium fell by 6.8% between 2008 and 2010, in the wake of the crisis, and was still 6.9 % below the 2008 level in 2014. In contrast, productivity in civil engineering rose by 10.5% between 2008 and 2012, and by 2015, it was 5.8% higher than in 2008. The number of enterprises in the broad construction sector also increased by 42.9% between 2008 and 2013. Additionally, the gross operating surplus of the broad construction sector amounted to EUR 12.8 billion in 2013, 26.3% higher than in 2008, and employment rose by 17.5% between 2008 and 2013.
The Belgian housing market has been relatively stable and unaffected by the economic crisis, displaying a steady growth in house prices, good availability of mortgage credit and low levels of household debt. Indeed, despite an initial decline in 2009, the house price index increased by 11.5% between 2008 and 2015. Despite the high ownership ratio (71.9%), affordable homes are increasingly in demand, but are in short supply. Examples of measures to support home ownership, particularly for low-income households, include a system of tax reductions on homes and mortgages (the Housing Bonus/Housing Cheque), the Accesspack loan scheme, and an investment fund for public housing, which aims to fund the construction of 6,000 new social homes.
To boost investment in public infrastructure (transport in particular), the Walloon Region introduced the Infrastructure Plan 2016-2019 with a budget of EUR 640 million. The plan aims to rehabilitate highways, renovate and secure regional roads. The Brussels-Capital Region has also defined a long-term investment plan for 2016-2025 to extend the metro service, expand connections and increase security on roads and the metro. The Flemish government is also increasing its budget allocation (EUR 350 million in 2015) for road construction by EUR 100 million in 2017. A further EUR 419 million will also be allocated to transport infrastructure projects under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
Belgium has implemented a range of financial support measures to boost renovation and energy efficiency in housing, such as the Housing Energy Premium, Renovation Premium, Ecopack and Renopack. Various initiatives have also been launched to improve the skills in the construction industry and generate new construction jobs. Two examples are a pilot traineeship programme, which was launched in 2014 to improve the quality of hands-on education in construction, and the ‘Femmes de metier’ website, which is specifically dedicated to the recruitment of women.
The Post-Intervention File (PIF) – Postinterventiedossier (PID) in Dutch or Dossier d'intervention ultérieure (DIU) in French – is a file that contains all relevant health and safety information and documents that are legally required for any type of building construction, refurbishment or maintenance work. A safety coordinator is expected to be involved in project design and implementation, and is required to create and maintain a PIF throughout the construction process to manage risks and track work onsite to ensure correct execution.
The European Construction Sector Observatory is helping the construction value chain to confront the economic and social challenges that impact the construction industry. Through regular analysis and comparative assessments, the initiative aims to inform European policymakers and industry stakeholders on the market conditions and policy developments in the European construction sector. The key outputs of the Observatory include Country Fact Sheets that profile and analyse the construction sector in each Member State, Policy Fact Sheets on key sector-related policies in each Member State, and a series of Analytical Reports on the implementation of Construction 2020 Strategy objectives.
Visit the Observatory website to download analytical fact sheets and reports on Belgium and other Member States, and gain insight into the European construction sector.