The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) and the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC), the European social partners of the construction industry in their European Social Dialogue Committee have prepared a multianual work programme, in which they have strongly emphasised the European labour market challenges linked to the increased number of third country national companies and workers. In the recent years, an increase in the presence of non-EU companies and non-EU workers has been observed in the European construction sector. At present, most of these companies and workers seem to be working in Central and Eastern European countries, where skilled, qualified construction workers are currently in very short supply, but cases have also been observed in Western EU countries. This new trend has created some significant new challenges for the European and national social partners of the construction sector. To understand these new developments and collect the evidence basis for joint social partner recommendations, EFBWW and FIEC are implementing the project Better Functioning of the European Construction Labour Market (FELM) with the financial support of the European Commission Budget Heading 04.03.01.08 - Industrial relations and social dialogue (Grant agreement VS/2021/0011). The European Centre has been contracted to conduct the research for the FELM project.
The objectives of the project “Better Functioning of the European construction labour Market - FELM” (VS/2021/0011 - Support for social dialogue) in which the research activities at hand are embedded comprise the following:
- to assess European labour market challenges linked to the increased number of non-EU companies and workers on the European construction sector, scrutinizing both businesses’ challenges and workers’ challenges;
- to produce a comprehensive picture on how non-EU companies and non-EU workers access the European labour market as well as the terms and conditions of their work in the European construction sector, through a legal, quantitative and qualitative analysis;
- to draw up conclusions and offer joint social partner recommendations on how to improve the functions of the European construction market.
The objectives of the European Centre’s external expertise include:
- To conduct the study part of the project
- To assess specific cases studies
- To support the work of the project management steering group
- To produce an intermediary report after the first phase of the project
- To assist with the elaboration of the possible recommendations
- To assist with the preparation of the two foreseen seminars
- To produce a final report with the study results and joint social partner recommendations.
The research questions for this study are:
- How do non-EU companies and non-EU workers access the European labour market?
- How many non-EU construction companies are currently active on the European construction market (broken down by country of destination, country of origin and construction activity)?
- How many non-EU construction workers are currently employed in the EU? How many TCN workers are posted across the EU (broken down to the level of disaggregation permitted by the existing databases and other data sources)?
- What are the terms and conditions under which non-EU companies and workers operate in the European construction sector?
- What are the businesses’ and workers’ challenges?
The methodology required to accomplish the study is that of mixed method:
- Review of legal instruments: a critical analysis of the European legal framework and, where necessary, of the national legislative, administrative and practical framework allowing the employment of third country workers.
- Quantitative data collection and analysis: number and characteristics of third country construction companies, construction workers, and posted construction workers.
- Case Studies: up six case studies covering non-EU companies working in the European construction sector, non-EU workers employed in the European construction sector, and non-EU workers posted from one EU country to another EU country.