The Construction Confederation is to rejoin the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) at the turn of the year, following a six-year self-imposed absence.
John Bromley, the confederation's European director, said his organisation had been unable to properly serve the interests of UK contractors while remaining outside FIEC and will pay the £126,500 membership fee from 1 January.

Bromley said UK companies had frequently missed out because of the confederation's position: "We estimate that the implementation of the recent working time directive cost the industry £100m, because we didn't have a seat at the negotiating table," he said.

The confederation resigned its membership in 1995 after a row over costs and regulatory procedures; these differences have apparently been resolved.

Bromley also said he expected the European parliament to make an announcement on the problematic "preferred bidder" stage of the PFI process in the spring.

The European Commission is currently debating whether the awarding of preferred bidder status is anti-competitive under European Union law. It is due to pass the Consolidated Procurement Directive on to the parliament for ratification for the second time late this year.

"We are confident of success," said Bromley. "Without this stage, the whole PFI process falls down."

The confederation announced that it is to stage a conference in February to link British construction firms with prospective European PFI clients.

FIEC is recognised by the European Commission as the pan-European representative of the construction industry.