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Sweden builds future as EU construction falls

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Sweden builds future as EU construction falls
Sweden's Prime Minister (centre) and Green Party co-leader Åsa Romsen. Photo:TT
17:03 CEST+02:00
The building industry in Sweden is experiencing a boom as the country's housing crisis continues, bucking the trend for a dip in construction across the EU.
Sweden's construction sector experienced a 9.4 percent rise in production between February 2014 and February 2015, according to new EU figures released on Monday.
 
By contrast, production across the European Union's 28 member states dropped by 2.4 percent over the same period.
 
Only Romania reported a higher increase in building work, with production jumping by 19.5 percent.
 
Growth in the Swedish building industry comes as the country continues to grapple with a housing crisis in the Nordic nation's largest towns and cities.
 
The figures may come as a surprise to some Swedes, given the huge current debate in the Swedish media about the need to build more homes. The EU statistics suggest that while there is still more work to be done, the Nordic nation is working to provide more apartments and office spaces.
 
Around a third of Swedes live in rental accommodation and the shortage of accommodation in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö was a key campaign issue at the last general election. Close to 300,000 young adults between 20 and 27 years of age neither own their own property nor have a long term rental contract.
 
The problem is particularly acute in the capital Stockholm, where in some parts of the city there is a 20-year wait for apartment seekers. This has resulted in a strong subletting culture, with prices spiralling in recent years despite rules designed to cap rental increases. Some students are even being offered mobile homes built from former steel containers.
 
 
Last month Sweden's Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven pledged that 150,000 new homes would be built each year from 2016, in a move designed to help both Swedish and international workers.
 
“The housing shortage creates social problems. Many young people remain at home for a longer time than they and their parents had thought. People are finding it harder to live their lives. This is a freedom issue," Löfven told reporters at a press conference.
 
"Too few homes are being built in Sweden. There is a deficit of rented apartments on the property market no matter the geographical location. The demand for small apartments in particular is great," housing minister Mehmet Kaplan wrote in a debate article published by The Local Sweden the same week.
 
The largest decreases in production in construction in the EU over the past year were registered in Germany (-8.1 percent), France (-7.9 precent) and Portugal (-4.5 percent), the new Eurostat figures have revealed.
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