France: Construction sector benefits from government stimulus plan

(Photo: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP)

The EUR 100 billion stimulus package unveiled by Prime Minister Jean Castex on 3 September will allocate EUR 30 billion to an ecological transition plan, said to be the central element of the package, and another EUR 7.5 billion to the construction sector. The stimulus package, 40 percent of which came from European funds, intends to “prepare” France for 2030 as it transitions towards a greener and more decarbonised economy. 

According to BWI’s French affiliates, a EUR 2 billion will be allotted for major energy retrofit efforts of buildings whether they are heat, electricity, solar thermal or photovoltaic installations, bringing a direct saving of carbon and loads for the occupants of buildings, which will be made more efficient by insulation. Another EUR 500 million will also be made available for the thermal renovation of social parks, allowing the heaviest operations to skip several energy classes. Meanwhile, EUR 3.3 billion will be allocated to renovate public buildings, such as community sites, schools, high schools, universities, student housing, the state's administrative buildings, and police stations and courts. 

France will also focus on innovations in the energy sector, which is translated to a EUR 470 million worth of support for the nuclear sector to finance research and development, digitisation of equipment, recycling and the installation of safety equipment and future investment programmes. In addition, hydrogen, rail and public transport will be further developed. 

To maintain jobs, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, confirmed a reduction in production taxes on January 2021 and is looking to target long-term partial unemployment.

According to Le Maire, France will return to its pre-crisis level of development in 2022 and will see a decrease in the unemployment rate, despite expecting 800,000 job cuts this year. He is counting on the recovery plan to create 160,000 jobs in 2021. 

However, it remains to be seen whether the objective is achievable in case the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, especially due to the resurgence of new cases in the last two weeks.