"The lack of affordable housing has become one of the most worrisome issues of social inequality in many European cities and, according to Eurofound, the economies in the EU pay some € 195 billion per year for inadequate housing costs", stressed PES member Hicham Imane, Member of the Charleroi Municipal Council (Belgium), at today's COTER meeting. "We urgently need to come up with concrete solutions for cities and regions as they are on the front line when providing housing support for citizens", he urged.
His opinion, which received an overwhelming support by COTER members, reiterates the CoR's call for setting a European agenda on housing. This would ensure a better coordination between the EU and the Member States' policies and between their regions and their local authorities. It would also address the fragmented approach the EU has had until now towards housing.
"Housing needs to become a priority on the European agenda. For example, European policies in the fields of environment, state aid and social help have a clear impact on local housing policies", he explained. "We now need to link all the housing-related work we have already done in relation to the EU's Urban Agenda, to the Pillar of Social Rights, the State Aid for Services of General Economic Interest, the Energy Efficiency Package and to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals", he added.
The rapporteur also advocates for a more effective use of the EU's funding instruments in addressing the housing crisis and calls for a housing investment which is eligible under the future cohesion policy in order to better respond to the diversity of local needs. "We are talking about a public good, not about a tradable cross-border commodity", he emphasised.
Hicham Imane will present his draft opinion at the launch event of the 2017 edition of “The State of Housing in the EU” report in Brussels. It will then be adopted at the November CoR plenary session.
Guaranteeing affordable and accessible housing for all is a major PES political priority. The PES' position on this topic has already been developed in the following two CoR's opinions: 'Towards a European agenda on housing' (rapporteur: Alain Hutchinson, PES/Belgium) and the 'European Pillar of Social Rights' (rapporteur: Heijo Höfer, PES/Belgium).