Affordable and sustainable housing must become a priority of Europe’s recovery plan

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The Recovery Plan and Green Deal cannot deliver economic and social justice without tackling the housing crisis. More than 100 progressive local, regional, and European leaders call for a European Deal for Housing. The list of signatories is available below.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many cracks in our society, from the unequal and unprepared public health policies to the dramatic lack of social cohesion. A particular issue has truly come home to roost: housing inequality has been dramatically emphasized by the current health emergency. When we were all housebound for weeks on end, far too many people were locked down in poor-standard, overcrowded or unhealthy spaces. In addition to this, many did not have the means to pay their energy bill to heat their homes, and most did not see nor have access to nature for months.

The European Union has been going through a systemic housing crisis for a long time now, which has its root causes in a structural shortage of affordable, public and social housing and from the lack of public investment. However, the housing issue interconnects with three other major crises that need to be tackled simultaneously: the social crisis, the climate crisis and the economic crisis.

Housing and the social crisis

With over 50 million people overburdened by housing costs, social housing waiting lists at an all-time high, and 700,000 people sleeping rough every night in the streets of Europe, it is clear that fixing the housing crisis will mean putting the focus on social inequality in our society.

The situation was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and cities and regions rapidly reinforced their solidarity measures. While the Brussels Region introduced, for example, bonuses for vulnerable tenants, Vienna suspended evictions from its communal apartments, Rotterdam invested in homeless services and Nantes established a housing solidarity fund. All these examples are just temporary measures that brought much-needed help at a given point in time. Nevertheless, we now need a proper long-term public investment in this sector.

It is proven that living in a state of housing insecurity has a strong impact on your mental and physical health, particularly for children. For this reason, creating a Child Guarantee giving every child in our Union access to decent housing is the basis to guarantee a better future for all.

Housing and the climate crisis

In aggregate, buildings are responsible for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption and for 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is thus clear that solving the housing crisis should go hand in hand with fixing the climate one. The actual renovation rate set around 1% in the EU is proof that we will not be able to meet the climate neutrality target if we continue at this rate.

This is why we need a real urban and architectural revolution to regenerate our cities and regions, starting with our hospitals, schools, and public services buildings, and supporting lower income households and marginalised groups.

Another element that should also be taken into account is that facing the climate emergency also means taking the fragility of our continent into account. Today, we do not only need to (re-)build, but also to build better in order to make our buildings safer and to improve the housing stock’s carbon footprint.

Housing and the economic crisis

Last but not least: the economy. As reported by the European Trade Unions Confederations, over 1,5 million jobs have been lost since the beginning of the pandemic. This translates into the fact that many households have been left without an income and are now unable to tend for their basic needs.

Investing in sustainable and affordable housing should also entail investing in the creation of jobs. The buildings sector, which represents 9% of Europe’s GDP, could create 4 million new jobs with investments of €300 billion.

Economy also stands for market and for housing market failures. The so-called “Airbnb effect” is inducing the spiralling of rental prices, gentrification and reduced housing availability for residents. To solve these issues, strong regulation is needed at European level, notably through the forthcoming Digital Services Act.

A European Deal for Housing

With the new Multiannual Financial Framework, in particular the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund + (ESF+), the Next Generation EU Recovery Plan, InvestEU and the Just Transition Fund, we have the foundations to build a new season of public investment to fix the housing crisis. The revision of the Stability and Growth Pact rules and a more sustainable European Semester process can also enhance the capacity of Member States and of local and regional governments to invest in affordable housing policies. The Renovation Wave that Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s First Vice-President, will put forward today must become the flagship project that will make our cities and regions more inclusive and sustainable.

In 2017, European leaders signed the European Pillar of Social Rights. This roadmap foresees an access to affordable and adequate housing for those in need and adequate shelter and services for homeless people. It thus must become our pillar for the recovery, together with the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

There is nowhere to go but forward, so we call on the European institutions and national governments to include a “European Deal for Housing” in Europe’s long-term recovery strategy.

We need a holistic strategy and multi-level governance to make sure that every town, city and region is part of – and an actor in – the process. Without the territories and their expertise and proximity to people’s problems, we will not deliver. Broader European and national goals can only be achieved when they also match local realities. Local and regional authorities (together with citizens, businesses and the civil society) are the ones that can ensure both go together.

Housing is a fundamental right and making sure that everyone has a place to call home will be the proof that we can succeed in building a European Union that leaves no one behind.

Signatories:

Local and regional elected representatives

  • Christophe Rouillon, President of the Party of European Socialists Group in the European Committee of the Regions (PES Group) and Mayor of Coulaines, France
  • Lucian Andrei, City councillor of Galati, Romania
  • Concha Andreu Rodríguez, President of the Autonomous Community of La Rioja and its Regional Government, Spain, and Vice-President of the PES Group
  • Hugues Bayet, Belgian MP and Mayor of Farciennes, and PES Group member
  • Nawal Ben Hamou, Secretary of State for Housing of the Brussels Region, Belgium
  • Roby Biwer, Local councillor of Bettembourg, Luxembourg, and coordinator for environment policies of the PES Group
  • Per Bødker Andersen, Municipal councillor of Kolding, Denmark, and Treasurer of the PES Group
  • Manuela Bora, Regional councillor of Marche, Italy, and coordinator for regional affairs of the PES Group
  • Isabelle Boudineau, Vice-President of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, France, and PES Group member
  • Maxi Ines Carl, Local councillor of Hannover, Germany
  • Carlos Carnero, Member of the Regional Assembly of Madrid, Spain
  • Martin Casier, Member of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital region, Belgium
  • Arianna Censi, Deputy-Mayor of Milan Metropolitan City, Italy, and PES Group member
  • Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President of the Brittany region, France, and PES Group member
  • Christophe Clergeau, Secretary of the French Socialist Party for Europe, Regional councillor of Pays-de-la-Loire, and PES Group member
  • Philippe Close, Mayor of Brussels, Belgium
  • Elio Di Rupo, Minister-President of Wallonia region, Belgium, and PES Group member
  • Juan Espadas, Mayor of Seville, Spain, and PES Group member
  • Alison Gilliland, Member of Dublin city council, Ireland, and member of the PES Group
  • Karine Gloanec Maurin, President of the Union of Municipalities of Collines du Perche, Deputy Mayor of Couëtron au Perche, and PES Group member
  • Celso González González, Minister for Finance and Public Administration of the Regional Government of La Rioja, Spain, and PES Group member
  • Christine Jung, City Councillor of Saarbrücken, Germany
  • Tom Jungen, Mayor of Roeser, Luxembourg, and PES Group member
  • Anne Karjalainen, Local councillor of Kerava, Finland, and PES Group member
  • Peter Kurri, Local councillor of Wiener Neustadt, Austria
  • Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany, and PES Group member
  • Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, Belgium, and PES Group member
  • Basílio Horta, Mayor of Sintra, Portugal, and PES Group member
  • Paul Magnette, Mayor of Charleroi and leader of the Belgian Socialist Party
  • Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk, President of Częstochowa, Poland, and PES Group member
  • Fernando Medina, Mayor of Lisbon, Portugal, and PES Group member
  • Luca Menesini, Mayor of Capannori, President of the Province of Lucca, Italy, and PES Group member
  • Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna, Italy, and PES Group member
  • Vojko Obersnel, Mayor of Rijeka, Croatia, and PES Group member
  • Carmine Pacente, Local councillor of Milan, Italy, and PES Group member
  • Elena Piastra, Mayor of Settimo Torinese, Italy
  • Yonnec Polet, First Deputy Mayor of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Belgium, PES Deputy Sec.Gen, and PES Group member
  • Donatella Porzi, Regional councillor of Umbria, Italy, and PES Group member
  • Ilmar Reepalu, Member of Skåne Regional Council, Sweden, and PES Group member
  • Filip Reinhag, Local councillor of Gotland, Sweden, and PES Group member
  • Yoomi Renström, Mayor of Ovanåker, Sweden, and PES Group First-Vice President
  • Enrico Rossi, former President of Tuscany region, Italy, and rapporteur on the Renovation Wave of the European Committee of the Regions, PES Group
  • Cristina de Fátima Silva Calisto, Mayor of Lagoa-Açores, Portugal, and PES Group member
  • Alessandra Sartore, Regional Minister for the Lazio Region, Italy, and PES Group member
  • Nathalie Sarrabezolles, President of the Finistère Departmental Council, France, and PES Group member
  • Pascal Smet, Secretary of State of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Urbanism and European and International Relations, Belgium, and PES Group member
  • Kata Tüttő, Deputy-Mayor of Budapest, Hungary, and Vice-President of the PES Group
  • Kasper Vanpoucke, City councillor of Brasschaat, Belgium
  • Cédric Van Styvendael, Mayor of Villeurbanne, France
  • Rudi Vervoort, Minister-president of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, and PES Group member
  • Javier Vila Ferrero, Director General of European Affairs of the Principality of Asturias, Spain, and PES Group member
  • Andrés Villa Fernández-Mayoralas, Local councillor of Collado Villalba, Spain
  • André Viola, Councillor of Departmental Council of Aude, France, and PES Group member
  • Gerry Woop, State Secretary for Europe of the Land of Berlin, Germany, and PES Group member
  • Othmane Yassine, Local councillor of Fermignano, Italy
  • Peter Florianschütz, Member of Vienna city council, Austria, and PES Group member
  • Guillermo Fernández Vara, President of the Regional Government of Extremadura, Spain, and PES Group member

Members of the European Parliament

  • Alex Agius Saliba, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Eric Andrieu, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Vice-President
  • Marc Angel, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Attila Ara-Kovács, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Brando Benifei, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the Italian delegation
  • Monika Beňová, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the Slovakian delegation
  • Udo Bullmann, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Gabriele Bischoff, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Biljana Borzan, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-president of the S&D Group and Head of the Croatian delegation
  • Dr. Milan Brglez, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Isabel Carvalhais, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Corina Crețu, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Josianne Cutajar, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Miriam Dalli, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-president of the S&D Group and Head of the Maltese delegation
  • Klára Dobrev, Vice-President of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Estrella Durá Ferrandis, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and shadow rapporteur on “Access to decent and affordable housing for all”
  • Ismail Ertug, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Tanja Fajon, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and leader of the Slovenian Socialni demokrati party
  • Jonás Fernández, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Ibán García del Blanco, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Evelyne Gebhardt, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Jens Geier, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the German delegation
  • Elisabetta Gualmini, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Sylvie Guillaume, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the French delegation
  • Hannes Heide, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Alícia Homs Ginel, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Agnes Jongerius, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the Dutch delegation
  • Prof. Dr. Dietmar Köster, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Aurore Lalucq, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Pierre Larrouturou, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Javi López, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • César Luena, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Nora Mebarek, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Pierfrancesco Majorino, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Margarida Marques, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Pedro Marques, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Costas Mavrides, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Csaba Molnár, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the Hungarian delegation
  • Victor Negrescu, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Maria Noichl, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Tonino Picula, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Giuliano Pisapia, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Manuel Pizarro, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Evelyn Regner, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Sándor Rónai, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Marcos Ros, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Andreas Schieder, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Pedro Silva Pereira, Vice-President of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Massimiliano Smeriglio, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Sergei Stanishev, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and President of the Party of European Socialists
  • Günther Sidl, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Marc Tarabella, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Mayor of Anthisnes, Belgium
  • István Ujhelyi, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Nils Ušakovs, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the Latvian delegation
  • Kathleen Van Brempt, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group, and Head of the Belgian delegation
  • Bettina Vollath, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
  • Lara Wolters, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group

Foundations

  • Maria João Rodrigues, President of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, and former vice-president of the S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • László Andor, Secretary General of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, and former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

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