James Hastings, head of construction futures at Experian, the UK representative of Euroconstruct, commented: "While countries such as Germany were not nearly so exposed to ‘toxic' debt as the UK, their export-led growth has been badly hit by the decline in world trade, with a consequent knock-on effect on construction activity."
The decline in activity is predicted to be in double digits in Finland, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, mainly due to the weakness of the housing market in all four countries.
However, the sharp decline in house building activity in both Ireland and Spain was inevitable given that they have recently been posting housing completions levels of around 20 and 17 units respectively, against a Euroconstruct average of around 5.5.
In the remainder of the big five - France, Germany, Italy, and the UK - the decline is expected to be more moderate than in Spain, ranging from -3.5% in Germany to -7.5% in Italy and the UK.
Only Switzerland and Poland are forecast to see any increase in activity this year, both driven by civil engineering work and a stable level of activity in the residential sector.