Economic and legal commission (ECO)

who's who

Brief description and main aims: 

The EU has one of the densest transport infrastructure networks in the world. Nevertheless, Europe’s transport network is far from complete and a large part of it is now ageing and coming under increasing pressure due to a rise in traffic. The maintenance deficit has led to the deterioration of transport infrastructure as demonstrated by the collapse or frequent closure of bridges or as observed in the poor state of some road surfaces. 

The TEN-T Regulation is a core instrument at EU level for influencing Member States’ infrastructure policies. Recognising the necessity of modernising the EU’s transport system, the European Commission adopted new transport proposals in December 2021, among which the revision of the guidelines for the trans-European transport network. TEN-T revision aims at addressing the missing links in the TEN-T network and upgrading it. 


Why FIEC is dealing with this topic: 

The continuous maintenance of existing infrastructure is necessary to ensure the uniform quality of Europe’s transport network. In addition to increasing the safety of users, a well maintained and modern transport network comes will various environmental benefits, by contributing to a more circular economy (thereby reducing raw material consumption and generation of waste) and by reducing CO2 emissions.

FIEC has put a particular focus on the TEN-T revision. Key provisions from our perspective are those that refer to the maintenance of the network’s infrastructure and the deployment of innovative infrastructure. Thanks to FIEC’s intense lobbying over the past years, the Commission aims at strengthening the approach with the regards to the quality of the TEN-T infrastructure and its maintenance, including the structural stability of critical assets such as bridges and tunnels. 

As essential connecting points in Europe’s transport network, the malfunction of bridges attracts particular attention. For this reason, FIEC has decided to set up a new working group, called ECO WG “Structural Maintenance”, that will mainly focus on problems related to the lack of maintenance of bridges and promote initiatives to tackle this issue.

Actions and key dates
Successful lobbying on the European Parliament’s own-initiative report

Contribution to European Commission’s public consultation on revision of TEN-T guidelines 

Propsal for the revision of the TEN-T regulation
FIEC Position Paper on the Commission’s proposal for the revised TEN-T
FIEC sets up a new ECO Working Group on “Structural maintenance” (bridges)
FIEC chairs “Bridge Maintenance & Safety in Europe” Conference in Brussels
Participation in panel discussion in Connecting Europe Days 2022


Brief description and main aims: 

The Covid-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions to global supply chains, with several contractors experiencing delays in the delivery of products. The ongoing war in Ukraine has further strained the supply of certain raw materials (e.g., steel) in Europe and price increases for construction materials are being observed across all EU Member States

At the same time, a sharp hike in energy prices has also been observed across the EU since 2021. Several factors have contributed to this rise in prices, such as the unprecedented increase in gas prices on the global markets, the increased demand for liquefied national gas, or Russia’s unilateral decision to stop gas supplies to several EU countries. Energy-intensive industries including steel, concrete and cement tend to pass on the impact of higher prices to contractors.


Why FIEC is dealing with this topic: 

Several contractors in Europe are having serious difficulties coping with rising prices and supply shortages for energy and certain construction materials, with many at risk of not being able to fulfil contractual obligations.

Sustained high energy and raw material costs have a negative impact on production levels, potentially slowing down construction works. In the field of public procurement, many companies refrain from participating in new tenders. To add to the problem, in several Member States, contracts do not take into sufficient account prices increases and clients continue to enforce completion deadlines.

FIEC has repeatedly been raising awareness to the impact of supply chain disruptions and price increases for contractors across Europe. It has also called for measures to be taken at the national and EU-level to mitigate adverse impacts on the sector, especially in the field of public procurement. Public contracts should be adapted accordingly and should include adequate price revision mechanisms for ongoing contracts and adjustment clauses to the completion deadlines. 


Actions and key dates

Gas package (including proposal for a recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive) presented by the Commission


FIEC addresses European Commission in a letter, requesting the suspension of steel safeguard measures 

06/2022 – 07/2022

FIEC develops a price index for construction materials (used by DG GROW)


FIEC meeting with DG GROW on effects of price increases in public procurement

REPowerEU package presented by the European Commission
Emergency measures to tackle rising energy prices (Council Regulation)
Additional emergency measures to tackle high energy prices announced by the European Commission


Brief description and main aims: 

In May 2021, the European Commission published a proposal for Regulation on Distortive Foreign Subsidies in the EU Single Market aimed at tackling the distortive effects of foreign subsidies in the EU Single Market. The proposal will also fill a legislative gap as, currently, there is no EU instrument to control subsidies granted by third countries. It is expected that the Regulation will be adopted in November 2022.

Under the proposed Regulation, the Commission will have the power to investigate financial contributions granted by public authorities of a non-EU country which benefit companies engaging in an economic activity in the EU and redress their distortive effects, as relevant. The Regulation proposes the introduction of three tools, two notification-based and a general market investigation tool. This includes a notification-based tool to investigate bids in public procurements involving a financial contribution by a non-EU government, where the estimated value of the procurement is €250 million or more. 

Why FIEC is dealing with this topic: 

FIEC treats this issue in cooperation with the European International Contractors (EIC) and the European Dredging Association (EuDA). Efforts are now focused on providing the EC information substantiating a reasonable suspicion of foreign subsidies in a particular market segment, justifying a market investigation (under Art. 34). 

In the last years, an increasing number of public infrastructure projects have been awarded to third country State-owned enterprises (SOEs), particularly from China, submitting extremely low prices against which private European companies cannot compete. A pattern of distortive subsidies is suspected in these cases.  As such, it is important to look at the possibilities for action the Regulation offers that could potentially help restore a level playing field in the EU Single Market


Actions and key dates
European Commission issues Proposal for a Regulation on Distortive Foreign Subsidies
Launch of interactive map Third country state-owned enterprises in the European procurement market
FIEC-EIC key messages and joint amendments (later updated together with EuDA)

Council and European Parliament agree their negotiating position on the Commission’s proposal

FIEC-EuDA-EIC agree on the possibility of working towards triggering a market investigation
Adoption expected


Brief description and main aims: 

In February 2022, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD) which aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains. Under the new rules, companies will have to identify, prevent, or put an end to potential or actual negative human rights and environmental impacts resulting from their activities. 

The new due diligence rules will apply to certain company's own operations, their subsidiaries in the sense of a ‘controlled undertaking’ as well as to direct and indirect “established business relationships” in their value chains. Only companies that meet defined thresholds will come directly under the scope of the due diligence rules. SMEs therefore do not directly fall within the Directive’s scope. 


Why FIEC is dealing with this topic: 

FIEC deals with this issue together with European International Contractors (EIC). Contractors across Europe are still sensing the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and are now confronted with the impact of a war in Ukraine on their supply chains. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that the ruleset for CSDD is manageable and does not lead to additional cost burden for European businesses.

As such, while FIEC and EIC support the introduction of a harmonized EU legal framework for CSDD, they call upon the EU legislator to limit corporate responsibility to companies’ own operations and direct business partners. Furthermore, the corresponding obligations must provide a level playing field between EU and non-EU construction companies whilst avoiding disproportional obligations for SMEs.



Actions and key dates
European Commission published proposal for EU Directive CSDD
FIEC-EIC Position Paper on EU Directive CSDD
FIEC-EIC joint amendments on EU Directive CSDD