Build Europe, the leading European trade association of developers and housebuilders, welcomes the recent publication of the EU Territorial Agenda 2030. The Association is glad that the Council of the European Union has put a strong emphasis on territorial cohesion as Build Europe recommended in its recent publications.
Build Europe welcomes the pilot action ‘A future for lagging regions’, designed to reinforce economic and social anchor points in structurally weakened EU regions in order to maintain and increase quality of life outside urban areas. As stated in our booklet “Housing: A European Challenge”, our members believe that the EU must focus on rural areas and smaller cities. It is important to design a more egalitarian Europe, and therefore not to concentrate investments in large cities and metropolises. There is an interest for our fellow citizens to live in these small and medium-sized towns and even in rural areas, and this trend has been reinforced with the Covid crisis and the development of teleworking.
In its 2019 Manifesto, Build Europe called on European authorities to promote spatial planning policies in order to make medium-sized cities more attractive through strategic investments in transport infrastructure, and digital technologies (eg optical fiber). Rather than reducing services such as maternity wards, hospitals, and schools, Build Europe proposes instead to promote job creation, for instance by fostering much-needed European industrial redevelopment programmes in these medium-sized cities.
Furthermore, during the 2020 health crisis, Build Europe invited the European institutions to consider that the concentration of populations in metropolises and large cities should not be considered a foregone conclusion as housing demand will likely increase in medium and low-density communities in the future, as digital technologies are changing drastically the way European citizens live and work, hence increasing the attractiveness of rural areas.
If we restore dynamism in these territories, especially by keeping our youth there via economic activity and high-level training, not only will we prevent the desertification of these territories, but we will be also able to develop more affordable housing because the land is cheaper and construction costs are lower. Moreover, these areas have a high quality of life that can be appreciated and sought after.
Our Members are therefore glad that all these contributions are reflected in the Territorial Agenda’s pilot actions. Build Europe agrees that “small and medium-sized places are an important pillar of Europe’s territorial DNA” and welcomes the EU engagement towards small towns and villages in the development of integrated territorial development processes.
Marc Pigeon, President of Build Europe, said: “We have to rethink the way European citizens will live in the future. Big cities should not be the sole focus of public policies as rural areas are due to play an increasingly important role in the years to come. As far as housing is concerned, rather than contributing, via subsidies, to the increase in property prices in metropolises caused by a lack of land, let us invest in land planning and build a more homogenous and affordable Europe”.
Filiep Loosveldt, Managing Director of Build Europe, added: “Build Europe and its Members would like to thank the European institutions for addressing the need to increase territorial cohesion in the EU. European developers and housebuilders highlighted multiple times how crucial this topic will be in the coming years for all citizens, and we are happy that the EU has followed policies in line with our indications on this matter”.