Our housing system is broken. Over 85 million people in the European Union are overburdened by housing costs. Too many people live in poor quality or dilapidated homes. Waiting lists for social and affordable housing are growing longer. Energy poverty, eviction and homelessness loom over the lives of millions of citizens. And these inequalities – already severe – are being worsened by COVID-19.
It is time to fix our housing crisis. The common well-belling of our Union depends on it. It is time to rethink the EU policy agenda to give housing the space it deserves.
A home is more than a postal address, it is the environment in which we live, love, build our future and, increasingly, work. It is an anchor for accessing employment and other opportunities. It is a space for rest and respite from the pressures of daily life. A home – a good quality and affordable home – should be a right for all citizens with an implementation of a universalistic model of housing. If we can achieve that, we can make a significant step towards ensuring equal opportunities and increasing social cohesion in our Union.
Housing must become a top priority for the European Union and all its policies must contribute towards decent and affordable housing for all. The commitments contained in the European Pillar of Social Rights must not remain empty words. Social objectives - empowering our citizens to co-create their living environment, including housing affordability - must be a priority for the 2030 Agenda implementation in the EU. Housing goals must have the same legal enforceability as ecological objectives, fiscal consolidation and financial stability.
Investment in affordable housing will pay dividends. It is a key instrument in the fight against social exclusion and territorial segregation; it helps to create inclusive living spaces and to achieve climate targets (housing represents 36% of EU greenhouse emissions); and it has a positive impact on the local economy.
We believe in a more cohesive Europe that protects everyone by guaranteeing all citizens have a decent place to live, particularly vulnerable groups. We believe that we can mitigate the climate crisis, in partnership with our citizens and communities, by building a housing sector which delivers energy-efficient homes. At local and regional level, we believe we must do everything to promote inclusive communities and innovative cooperation in housing.
We are asking the European Union and its Member States for:
- A European Deal for Housing with a sound monitoring housing system on European and national levels that includes local and regional authorities;
- More investments in affordable and sustainable housing to rectify the EUR 600 billion investment gap in the past decade, to build new homes, to reduce the carbon footprint through renovation and to create liveable neighbourhoods together with our citizens;
- A clear commitment that any public investment in housing shall lead to a fairer housing market, with investment linked to binding conditions such as security of tenure and affordability;
- An end to austerity measures, allowing national, regional and local authorities to unleash investment in housing so they can increase the provision of sufficient adequate and affordable social housing for all (the reference threshold for the housing cost overburden rate should not be higher than 25 % of the disposable income of a household);
- A change in State Aid, EU accountability and audit rules and an integration of housing into the list of Services of General Economic Interest allowing for the development of comprehensive policies for housing;
- A European framework to regulate the negative impact of digital platforms on housing markets;
- A European commitment to tackle speculation and money laundering in the housing market through a transparency registry and the establishment of local rental price control systems as well as the regulation of the real estate market;
- Housing affordability must be included in the European Semester and the National Reforms Programmes;
- A follow-up on the recommendations of the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership when shaping future housing-related EU policies.
Christophe Rouillon, President of the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions, and Mayor of Coulaines, France
Iratxe García Pérez, President of the S&S Group in the European Parliament
Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists
Heléne Fritzon, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the S&D Group
Agnes Jongerius, Member of the European Parliament and S&D Group Coordinator for the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
Estrella Durá Ferrandis, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
Manuel Pizarro, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
Maria João Rodrigues, President of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies
László Andor, Secretary General of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies