Federico Nahuel Lazzari, Build Europe Secretary-General: In 2024, we will focus on making housing affordability a priority for the next European Commission and ParliamentI thank Stroitel Newspaper for its invaluable support over the past few years
Mr. Lazzari, Stroitel Newspaper and Build Europe will launch a joint rubric. Tell us more about the initiative?
At Build Europe, we believe that in order to develop effective strategies to achieve our goals, we need to have information from housebuilders and developers about the development of the sector across the European Union. Their expertise is crucial for understanding the impact of regulations on their sector and, importantly, on the citizens and families aspiring to access decent housing at affordable costs.
Our partnership with Stroitel will equip Bulgarian developers with essential insights into Brussels' activities. We hope to gain valuable feedback on the housing sector's state in Bulgaria and understand how we can support them at the EU level. Exchange is vital to safeguard the construction sector and ensure its recovery after recent challenges. It is essential that the voices and expertise of developers and constructors are heard within the EU.
Through the rubric, the readers of Stroitel Newspaper will also get to know the manifesto of Build Europe. Tell us more about the manifesto.
The Manifesto of Build Europe was designed with our Members to explain to EU policymakers the underlying causes of the current housing crisis and propose solutions to restore housing affordability across the EU.
Over the last few weeks, I have met with Members of the European Parliament from various political parties. It was encouraging to hear their appreciation for the analysis and solutions we provided. Our hope is that EU politicians will prioritise housing affordability both in their political campaigns and on the agenda of the next legislature of the new European Parliament. The next five years will be very important to make sure that the construction sector can receive all the support it needs to restart.
The rubric is launched before the European Parliament elections, which will be held in the summer. What do the elections mean for the construction industry in Europe?
The next EU elections are pivotal for the construction sector, especially considering the focus of the EU on decarbonising the housing stock over the past five years. At Build Europe, our members were pleased to offer practical solutions to ensure that the EU’s environmental objectives did not exacerbate the housing affordability crisis. Following the introduction of new environmental regulations, it is imperative that the EU equips homebuilders and developers with the necessary tools to ensure housing remains affordable. This includes streamlining administrative processes and expediting the launch of new construction projects. Given that new housing represents the most eco-friendly option available, the EU must incentivise its accessibility to a broader segment of the population to achieve significant environmental benefits. Otherwise, the new regulations will not achieve any of the goals they are expected to reach. If we want a greener Europe, we must ensure that new housing is affordable for most people and that the supply meets the demand.
You are the Secretary-General of Build Europe. What does your job involve?
At Build Europe, I serve as both Secretary-General and Director of Communications and Public Affairs, which entails a diverse range of tasks. My daily responsibilities include monitoring policy files at the EU level that impact the construction and housing sectors, informing our members about these developments, gathering their feedback, and obtaining updates on the construction sector's status in their countries. Maintaining an open and regular communication channel with all Build Europe members is crucial to ensuring their voices are heard. In this way, we ensure that their voices are heard, that their expertise is useful for the success of our development strategies.
Additionally, an important part of my job is to collect best practices regarding the activities of our members at the national level. This is why we organize two congresses annually, recognising the significant benefits of information exchange among homebuilders and developers from various countries. These events are vital for raising awareness among our members about support for the construction sector at EU level. I must say that the one we organized in Sofia, together with BCC and GBS, was particularly successful, and I’d like to thank again both our Bulgarian members for the outstanding organization.
As Director of Communications, my role also involves informing journalists and the media about our work and activities, and organize important promotional events such as our European Awards.
What will be the priorities in the work of Build Europe in 2024? And your personal ones?
In 2024, Build Europe will concentrate on ensuring that housing affordability and the relaunch of new construction projects are prioritized by the new European Commission and Parliament, as well as by national governments. Additionally, we are pleased to welcome two new members to our association this year and I hope to continue expanding our reach.
The recent expansion of Build Europe has brought great personal and professional satisfaction to both me and my colleagues, as it is a proof of the importance of our work. I am always very happy when I see that our work benefit our members, and this keeps me motivated in my job.
On a personal note, this year I hope I will finally buy a house in Brussels. So, I have a personal interest in achieving housing affordability in the EU!
How is the housing sector developing in Europe? What does the data show? Where is Bulgaria according to the data?
In 2023, the housing sector across the European Union faced significant challenges, with a marked slowdown in new housing construction that has made both homeownership and renting increasingly difficult. This trend can be attributed to a complex socio-economic environment characterized by high mortgage rates, rising construction costs, inflation, supply chain disruptions, overregulation, and shortages in building land and permits. As a result, the majority of EU Member States are facing a severe housing shortage. Notably, Germany is experiencing its most acute housing crisis in two decades, while France has seen new home construction drop to levels last observed in 2010. Projections indicate that this downturn in housebuilding is expected to continue into 2024 in most Member States. For this reason, we need to clearly highlight that there’s an urgent need for action from both the EU institutions and national governments to mitigate the potential social and political consequences from the worsening housing crisis.
When it comes to Bulgaria, according to our data, we can say that the country witnessed a decrease in the number of property sales in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Despite a rise in residential prices that outpaced inflation rates, Bulgaria saw a positive trend in the volume and number of mortgage loans issued in BGN, benefiting from relatively stable interest rates on these loans. This stability suggests that while Bulgaria faced similar challenges to the rest of the EU, its housing market fortunately managed to navigate these difficulties with a degree of resilience that was less severe than in other Member States.
So, in conclusion, the EU is facing serious issues affecting its housing market, there's a clear need for targeted actions from both EU and national authorities to tackle the housing crisis and make sure people can find homes they can afford. I believe homebuilders and developers are best positioned to provide institutions with pragmatic solutions, as they are the ones who know the problems affecting the housing sector better than anyone else.
In 2024, Stroitel Newspaper celebrates its 15th anniversary. What will you wish to the team and readers of the newspaper?
I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Stroitel Newspaper on its 15th anniversary! My gratitude goes to Stroitel for its invaluable support over the past few years, keeping Bulgarian homebuilders and developers well-informed about the opportunities and challenges within their sectors.
To all the readers, I wish you the very best and look forward to receiving your insights in the future. We are committed to amplifying your voices and ensuring they are heard.