A European Deal for Housing

Thu 15, October 2020
14:30 - 16:00 CET
https://euregionsweek2020-video.eu/video/a-europea ...

Housing is a precondition for achieving personal wellbeing, for social participation, for integrating into society and for contributing to a fair and inclusive society. It is a major element in our fight for a more social Europe: leaving no one behind also means leaving no one without a decent and affordable home! At the same time, it will be a key component of a truly European Green Deal through the upcoming Renovation Wave Strategy, which aims at scaling up the energy renovation of the building stock and at tackling energy poverty.

Local and regional politicians have experience in the provision of housing on a daily basis. They are also familiar with the difficulties coming from the lack of financing to actually build new dwellings or from conflicting EU legislation in policy areas linked to housing. These create obstacles for established schemes at local and regional level to support affordable and sustainable housing. 

To tackle these challenges, progressive cities and regions have taken innovative actions and can inspire us with their initiatives. At the same time, through various initiatives, cities are partnering up. They are asking for Europe's help in tackling the social, economic and sustainability aspects of the housing crisis, all of which have been exacerbated even more by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The workshop aims to identify the obstacles met by local and regional politicians to finance affordable and sustainable housing through European funds (the cohesion funds, the recovery plan or InvestEU in particular) to identify progressive solutions and best practices, and to list core policy demands for European policy-makers that could feed into the European Parliament's report “Access to decent and affordable housing for all”.

A strong future cohesion policy and a European Deal for Housing need to go hand in hand!

For more information, please visit: https://pes.cor.europa.eu/european-deal-housing

Maria Freitas, Senior Policy Advisor, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Belgium.
Estrella Durá Ferrandis, Member, European Parliament, Spain.
Peter Florianschütz, Member of the Vienna City Council and PES Group member, Vienna City, Austria.
Milan Ftáčnik, Co-author of the study on “Concrete actions for Social and Affordable Housing in the EU, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Slovakia.
Alison Gilliland, Member of the Dublin City Council and PES Group member, Dublin City, Ireland.
Michaela Kauer, Coordinator of the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership, City of Vienna, Austria.
Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna and PES Group member, City of Bologna, Italy.
Enrico Rossi, President, Tuscany region, Italy.
Christophe Rouillon, President of the PES Group and Mayor of Coulaines, European Committee of the Regions, Belgium.
Jutta Steinruck, Mayor, City of Ludwigshafen, Germany.
Karin Zauner-Lohmeyer, Affordable housing activist, "Housing For All", Austria.
Cohesion and Cooperation
European Committee of the Regions - PES
Deutsch (DE), English (EN), Español (ES), Français (FR), Italiano (IT)

Session summary

The first panel brought together progressive politicians from different European cities presenting initiatives in their cities in order to tackle housing challenges.

Alison Gilliland, member of the Dublin City Council, explained that the multiple challenges she is facing in Dublin is trying to have a more inclusive approach for housing, avoiding segregation so as to also meet the needs of those who fall outside the eligibility criteria for housing aid.

Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna, mentioned how they are focussing on rent in Bologna, a problem that has been worsened by the pandemic. A fund for supporting rent payments has been set up and focus is also being put on social mobility, sustainability and intergenerational cohousing living.

Peter Florianschütz, Member of the Vienna City Council, detailed what Red Vienna stood for in a city where over 60% of citizens live in subsidised housing and how it is not seen as housing but rather as a basic right.

Jutta Steinruck, Lord Mayor of Ludwigshafen, explained that creating affordable housing was one of her main political priorities when she took office, more specifically providing enough housing at all different price levels and dealing with the problem of lack of space.

The second panel focused on what is demanded at European level in terms of housing.  

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Milan Ftáčnik, co-author of the FEPS study on "Concrete actions for Social and Affordable Housing in the EU", informed participants about the study that presents best practises coming from six countries and makes recommendations for the local, national and European level.

Estrella Durá Ferrandis, MEP (S&D) and shadow-rapporteur on "Access to decent and affordable housing for all", presented the main points of the EP draft report, focusing on the idea that, at European level, we need an integrated strategy for social public housing that is affordable.

Michaela Kauer, coordinator of the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership, pointed to the rising regional disparities that need to be urgently addressed and to the 'woman's face' of the housing crisis.

Enrico Rossi, former President of Tuscany region and the Committee's rapporteur on the "Renovation Wave", underlined how tackling the housing crisis is intrinsically linked with tackling the climate crisis and  explained how the renovation wave can help us to 'build back better' and make our cities more sustainable and inclusive.

Karin Zauner-Lohmeyer, affordable housing activist, pointed to three fundamentals she identifies to reach a deal for housing in Europe: listen to the people, have courage and endurance in your political commitment and go back to the social democratic roots.

Concluding the event, Christophe Rouillon, President of the PES Group, underlined that progressive cities and regions will continue their fight for decent, affordable and sustainable housing for all.

Take away message

Against the backdrop of the financial, health and climate crisis, a growing number of citizens needs access to decent and affordable housing and we need to act urgently. Europe must give cities and regions actual means and funds to be able to change things on the ground through a tangible European Deal for housing. The Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery Plan must lay the foundations to build a new season of public investment to fix the housing crisis.


Estrella Durá Ferrandis, MEP (S&D, Spain):

The right to housing is a fundamental right and we would like the Commission and the Member States to ensure that housing is a cornerstone of European policy. The right to housing cannot mean access to social housing, we need a broader definition, like the UN's definition.  

Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna (Italy) and PES Group member:

In my mandate this year, we have invested EUR 61 million in order to build social housing. That is a very important aspect because, when we talk about rent, we are talking about the most vulnerable people.  

Peter Florianschütz, member of Vienna City Council (Austria) and PES Group member: 

Supported homing is not just for people in a weaker economic position; it is a normal form of living. We do not see housing as part of a market but as a basic right for people.