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Project FELM - “Better Functioning of the European Labour Market” Final Conference


03 May 2023



The European Social Partners of the construction sector, EFBWW and FIEC, held the  Final Conference of the EU-funded project “The Future of the European Labour  Market in Construction” (FELM). The goal is to assess the effect of the increased  number of third country national (TCN) companies and workers in the labour market  of the constrution industry. 

In the recent years, an increase in the presence of non-EU companies and non-EU workers  has been observed in the EU construction industry. This emerging trend – which is fed,  amongst others, by the shortage of skilled construction workers in European countries – has  created some new significant challenges for the European and national Social Partners of the  construction sector. 

6 project case studies to collect evidence 

The FELM project (“Future of the European Labour Market in Construction”) was conceived  to understand these new developments and collect the evidence basis for sharing the Joint  Recommendations issued by FIEC and EFBWW at the end of the project Final Conference held on 25th April in Vienna. Started in June 2021 and implemented with the financial support  of the European Commission, FELM relies on 6 case studies (3 focusing on TCN companies and  3 on TCN workers in the EU) to highlight the concrete aspects of this phenomenon. The key results of the legal and quantitatitve analysis carried out by the project were outlined  by the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research (Austria) during the event. 


The first panel discussion focused on the competition from non-EU companies in the EU  construction sector hosted speeches by Herbert Krutina, Board Member of Strabag AG, Jean Marc Candille, National Secretary of FNCB-CFDT and Alan Lievens, Chairman of the Board at  European Dredging Association, who introduced to the challenges faced by EU companies  compared to the non-EU ones. 

The second panel debated the presence of third-country national workers in the EU  construction sector with the interventions of Jan Vochten, Social Dialogue Director of Embuild (Belgian member federation of FIEC), Domagoj Ferdebar, SGH Regional Organiser of EFBWW,  and Olena Abramovych, a Brussels-based Ukrainian journalist. 

While providing feedback on the Recommendations, Cosmin Boiangiu, Executive Director of  the European Labour Authority, highlighted that the "Construction sector is in the focus of ELA’s  activities in 2023 and beyond. We set out a clear priority to contribute to fair labour mobility in that  sector. As always, we received very valuable input from social partners for our future actions in the  sector.

FELM Recommendations 

The Joint Recommendations address the challenges and opportunities related to the presence  of non-EU workers and companies in the European construction sector. While promoting a  fair and sustainable labour market, the guidance principles aim at ensuring compliance with  existing regulations and enhancing social cohesion. 

FELM also tackled the presence of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) from China that can lead to  distorted competition through subsidised bidding. The Recommendations foster the use of  provisions on abnormally low tenders in public procurement and convergence in  methodology (to detect and monitor them), as well as stricter rules on the use of EU funds. 

Furthermore, the document advocates for a rationalisation of the number of subcontracting  tiers, as it distinguishes subcontracting for specialised projects from subcontractitng aimed at  simply reducing costs and escaping legal and social responsibiliyies. Such approach will also  contribute prevenying from the risk of social fraud and abuse.

Finally, FELM encourages fair treatment of migrant workers (in terms e.g., of full and equal  rights, adequate wages, working conditions, social security, nonetheless the access to training  and education). Read or download the FELM Joint Recommendations



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