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 legislations 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 pandemia.
As part of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2020, the PES Group workshop on A European Deal for Housing 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 to 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!
Alison Gilliland has been a Labour Party Councillor on Dublin City Council where she represents a large and very socio-economic diverse suburban Dublin area since 2014. Alison is the Chairperson of Dublin City Council's Strategic Policy Committee on Housing. Under her leadership the Committee is striving to shift Dublin City Council housing policy to a more inclusive and sustainable public housing model that is less reliant on the private rental market as is currently the case for those middle income earners and those on social housing waiting lists. Alison has a background in teaching and works as a trade union official with responsibility for member professional development, union officer training and equality with the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO). She was awarded a doctorate qualification for her research into young teachers’ union activism and their concept of teacher professionalism. She has been a member of the European Committee of the Regions since January 2020.
Photo credits: flickr/The Irish Labour Party
Since 2007, Peter Florianschütz has been a member of the State Parliament and of the Local Council of Vienna. He has been a member of the European Committee of the Regions since 2016 and was rapporteur on a ‟European framework for regulatory responses to the collaborative economy”. Peter Florianschütz has been a member of the Vienna housing committee and was responsible for issues related to the management of public housing. From 2000 to 2007, he was a councillor in the district of Favoriten. He also works for the Austrian Trade Union Federation and the Chamber of Labor in Vienna. Florianschütz has studied legal studies, political science and human rights in Vienna and Krems.
Mayor of Bologna since 2011, Virginio Merola graduated in Philosophy from the University of Bologna. He first worked for “Società Autostrade” (a company responsible in particular for the management of Italian highways) and later served as a representative and manager within the transportation sector of the Italian trade union CGIL (“Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro” in Italian). In 1989, he became the Regional Secretary of “Lega delle Autonomie locali”, an association of Italian municipalities, provinces and regions that provides support to local governments. Merola's official political career began in 1995 when he was elected President of the “Quartiere Savena” (Savena district) in Bologna, serving two terms. In 2004, Merola became a member of the City Council in charge of Urban Planning, Spatial Planning and Housing. He has been a member of the European Committee of the Regions since 2019.
Agnes Jongerius has been a Member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Labour Party since 2014 and the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. She rose to prominence as the chair of the largest federation of trade unions in the Netherlands, a position she held from 2005 to 2012. From 2012-2014, she worked as a researcher at the University of Utrecht, focusing on the relationship between the EU and its citizens. She has been the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive and its shadow-rapporteur on employment and social policies of the euro area. Agnes holds a Master's degree in socioeconomic history from Utrecht. She has been a strong supporter of the European citizens’ initiative “Housing For All”.
Photo credits: flickr/Lex Draijer
Christophe Rouillon is the Mayor of Coulaines, the Second Vice-President of the Le Mans Métropole (responsible for budget and European funds), the Vice-President of the Association of French Mayors (responsible for Europe) and, since October 2019, the President of the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions. Member of the European Committee of the Regions since 2005, he was the Group's First Vice-President from 2017 to 2019. Rouillon studied Public Law and Political Science at the Universities of Sorbonne and Paris 2-Assas and holds a Degree in Public Law from the University of Maine Le Mans. He also completed the Aspen programme for young politicians and postgraduate studies in European studies at the National School of Administration. In 2001, at the age of 34, he was elected Mayor of Coulaines, and was reconfirmed in this position in the 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2014 local elections. As member of the European Committee of the Regions, Christophe Rouillon has been rapporteur on several key dossiers, including “Reconnecting Europe with its citizens: more and better communication at local level”, “Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union” and “Towards a more efficient and democratic decision making in EU tax policy”. He is currently the rapporteur on the “Recovery and resilience facility”.
Maria Freitas works as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), the only progressive think tank at the EU-level. She is responsible for the issues of democratic participation, extremism and new political movements. At FEPS, she also leads the Millennial Dialogue, a global youth engagement initiative that aims at creating a better understanding of the priorities and values of the Millennial generation and of their interactions with politics, political systems and institutions. Maria Freitas holds a law degree from the Lisbon University and a Master of Arts in European Political Studies from the College of Europe.
Karin Zauner-Lohmeyer has been working for more than 18 years for the City Administration of Vienna and, since 2012, at „Wiener Wohnen“, the largest public housing provider in Europe. As the head of the "Social Management" department, she leads a team that deals with the tenants' needs, focussing on eviction prevention, social research and international knowledge-exchange. As an individual, she launched the European Citizens' Initiative "Housing for All” with friends in 2019. This initiative has succeeded in making the housing crisis visible at European level and in raising awareness for affordable and social housing within EU institutions. “Housing for All” has also established an EU-wide network of organizations fighting for the right to housing. Karin Zauner-Lohmeyer was born in the Austrian province of Styria and lives in Vienna. She has a PhD in Media Science and also acquired an education as a forester.
Photo credits: Daniel Shaked
Panel moderated by Maria Freitas, Policy Advisor, Foundation for European Progressive Studies
Francina Armengol, President of the Balearic Islands (Spain) and PES Group member (TBC)
Alison Gilliland, Member of the Dublin City Council (Ireland) and PES Group member
Peter Florianschütz, Member of the Vienna City Council (Austria) and PES Group member
Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna (Italy) and PES Group member
Johanna Roland, Mayor of Nantes (France) (TBC)
Panel moderated by Maria Freitas, Policy Advisor, Foundation for European Progressive Studies
Agnes Jongerius, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group coordinator on employment and social affairs (Netherlands)
Enrico Rossi, President of Tuscany region (Italy) and rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions on the “Renovation Wave” (TBC)
Karin Zauner-Lohmeyer, affordable housing activist, "Housing for All"
Christophe Rouillon, President of the PES Group and Mayor of Coulaines (France)
The workshop will be live-streamed. The link will be available soon.