“We want the Nordic Region to be the most integrated construction market in the world. We want to make it easier for companies to build in other Nordic countries as part of a transition towards better and cheaper building throughout the Region,” says Peter Eriksson, the Swedish Minister for Housing and Digital Development, who hosted the meeting in Stockholm under the auspices of the Swedish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2018.
According to a report by Nordic Innovation, national differences in building regulations cost €40– 60 million in Sweden alone. It also ascertains that closer harmonisation could lead to a more integrated market for labour and products, with cost advantages for property owners, construction companies and the public sector.
According to the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, Sweden alone will need approximately 600,000 new homes in the period 2016–2025, and the ministers see great potential in promoting freedom of movement for construction companies.
In a declaration, the ministers called upon the Nordic Council of Ministers to look at ways of facilitating the harmonisation process, something the Secretary General, Dagfinn Høybråten, considers only natural to do.
“The declaration is in line with the prime ministers' vision of the Nordic Region as the most integrated region in the world. It also underpins the work we are already doing to promote freedom of movement, for example encouraging less rigid tax systems and recognising vocational qualifications throughout the Region,” says the Secretary General, who will present a report in June to the Ministers for Co-operation about greater cross-border mobility between the Nordic countries.
Building regulations stipulate the minimum standards for buildings when they are new and throughout their lifetime. In other words, buildings need to be maintained. The ministers see a long-term opportunity to reduce carbon emissions throughout the life cycle from the choice of building materials to running and maintaining buildings. Greater use of sustainable materials such as timber is also in line with Nordic environmental targets and will make the construction industry more competitive.