Invited by JLL Portugal, the two experts spoke this Wednesday on the challenges facing Europe and Portugal when leaving the pandemic, with a special focus on the real estate sector, revealing several clues which should guide the companies’ strategies during the recovery.
According to Christian Ulbricht, «comparing this crisis we’re living now with the great financial crisis of 2008/09 is not the correct approach. The first one was caused by the lack of confidence on the financial system, whereas the current one is caused by the fear people have concerning their health; and, as such, they have completely different motivations, causing their results to be equally different». He believes that «it is not yet possible to even forecast the pandemic’s real consequences, because it will all depend, on the confinement’s severity and, at the end of the day, all this fear can only be fixed when there is a vaccine; and that will be the main vector for the recovery, because, only when the vaccine is available, will we be able to retake our normal lives».
A vision shared by Carlos Moedas, as he himself recognised, considering that «we are going through the most problematic period of our lives. And, contrary to many opinion makers, I believe that one of the few things we know at this stage is that within 300 or 400 years people will still remember this historic episode». Reiterating that «this crisis is not at all the same as the previous one», the Ex-European Commissioner noted, however, that there are some lessons to be learned from the last crisis, and which may be decisive at this stage: «speed and scale, are the two essential attributes to leverage the recovery from a crisis that is devastating Europe. For now, we know that the ECB and the Eurogroup are acting faster than in 2009, which is good, but we do not know, however, if they are acting with the necessary scale to face this challenge. So, I await with great expectation to know what measures will be presented during the coming days by the Commission to the heads of state, since they will have an enormous economic impact in the short-term».
In any case, he added, «one interesting thing that experience shows us is that in the aftermath of a large crisis, Europe always ends up coming out stronger, creating new common mechanisms and tools of great importance», and he provided a few examples, such as the Banking Resolution Fund which was created after the great financial crisis, or the European Forest Fire Information System, which was created after the catastrophe that took place in our country in 2017, thus, concluded Carlos Moedas, «one of the things we learned for the future is the need for a common European coordinated response to situations of crisis like the one we are living now, and which can be caused not only by a pandemic but also, for example by a cyberattack». Warning that these are real threats, the ex-Commissioner concluded that «this is a great opportunity for Europe to accelerate innovation even more».
In the same way, and in terms of real estate, this is the time to invest more on sustainability and digitisation since, added Christian Ulbrich, both will be essential to increase people’s sense of security during their daily commutes, the way they live and the way they work. «If we want people to go back to the offices, shopping centres and so on, we must be able to guarantee a safe environment and a very high level of well-being, so that its users feel confident and safe». Apart from that, when the economic activity went on stand-by all of a sudden, «proptech had a huge boost and is transforming the real estate business at an even greater pace. This is a trend that will not stop and for which we need innovation».
Technology is, actually, one of the five macro-trends which, together with outsourcing, investment, urbanisation and sustainability allow us to obtain some clues as to where growth will return within the real estate sector in the post-Covid, advocates JLL’s Global CEO. «This crisis showed us how fragile our world is. And, more than ever, we must, henceforth, create our economic prosperity within a more sustainable world, and I think this aspect will prevail in the future», concluded Christian Ulbricht.
Given all this, Pedro Lancastre, JLL’s general manager for our country, has no doubts that «this is the key moment for us to define the way in which we will act in the future», which will imply «reimagining the way we live and work, how we conceive our houses and offices, but also how we can invest and how to go full steam ahead with digitization, since that is no longer an option, but a requirement».