EU-Commissioner Schmit: “Social housing plays an important role within the EU’s social policy agenda.”

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The alarming developments in Europe’s housing markets and the increasing number of homeless people were discussed at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on January 13th. The EU Commission has recognized the fact that far too little is being invested in social housing.

EU-Commissioner Nicolas Schmit (Jobs and social rights) stresses the importance of social housing and homelessness on the EU’s social policy agenda: “Access to decent housing at a decent price and a safe environment is a fundamental requirement.” Find below some excerpt. Please find the full text and the video here.

Lack of public investment: 57 billion Euros

“The housing crisis is linked to a lack of investment. The High-Level-Task Force of Investing in Social Infrastructure in Europe considers in its 2018 report that the shortfall on investment in housing constitutes around 57 billion Europe. Although the Union does not have the competence on housing – which is often a local competence in the Member States – social housing and homelessness play an important role within the EU’s social policy agenda.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU stipulates that the Union recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices.

The European Pillar of Social Rights includes a principle dedicated to housing and assistance for the homeless. It is a clear political signal on the importance that the European Union attaches to the fight against homelessness and housing exclusion. The European Pillar of Social Rights sets the bar high by promoting the reintegration of homeless people into society by means of enabling social services.

The Commission will now launch a broad consultation on the implementation of the pillar at a national, regional and local level. The EU’s role will be to work alongside all levels of governance for the benefit of citizens, and housing should also be a focus of this process.

Principle 19 of the pillar is included among the areas of investment of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the post—2020 Multiannual Financial Framework. Applying the integrated housing—led approach, housing action supported by the ERDF should be combined with thematic areas that can be supported through ESF+. In addition, we foresee an increased guarantee for social infrastructure within the proposed InvestEU, the EU’s future financial instrument for investments.

(Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for jobs and social rights.)

19. January 2020