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UEPC position paper on Social Housing report

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UEPC position paper on Social Housing report

The European Union of Developers and House Builders (UEPC) takes a close interest in the discussions underway in the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee on the draft Report of Ms Karima Delli on Social Housing in the EU.

In view of the debate on this file, UEPC has submitted its position paper to the Rapporteur and Shadow Rapporteurs.

According to UEPC, successful housing policy is one that enables the increasingly intertwined public and private sectors to flourish and thereby develop more and better housing. The key to that is the creation of a genuine level playing field for the housing providers. There are several elements to this:
  • In order to avoid distortions of competition, the compensation for social housing undertakings must not be used to finance activities outside the scope of the core service in question, unless such compensation is offered to all parties - regardless of their form  (not for profit/for profit) - offering housing for that market segment. Otherwise, access to social housing should clearly be limited to a target group of disadvantaged citizens or socially less advantaged groups.
  • Definitions of ‘social housing’ restricted to publicly or semi-publicly owned housing companies or “not-for profit companies” are no longer pertinent or acceptable. For the private sector to be able to offer housing that government can no longer afford to finance, it must not be restricted to the role of mere service provider to public or semi-public bodies.
  • State aid must be rigorously focused on promoting affordable housing, no matter what the legal status of the provider is. The aid must go indiscriminately to all those who can do the job, public, semi-public or private. To do otherwise is to distort competition on socially mixed housing markets.
For housing, the concepts of ‘level playing field’ or ‘freedom of competition’ are not some ultra-liberal credo; they are the means by which public and private bodies can be made to compete in achieving the common good: quality affordable housing. 

UEPC considers that the draft Report of Ms Delli represents a balanced contribution to the debate on addressing the needs for decent and affordable housing for all. While some amendments tabled further improve upon the draft Report, in our view, at the same time a number of other amendments could severely jeopardise this balance. In summary:
  • UEPC welcomes amendments which seek to introduce references to ‘affordable’ as well as ‘social’ housing, to improve the text in relation to property bubbles and to reflect the rules on Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI).
  • UEPC has significant concerns that a number of other amendments could lead to a distortion of competition in the provision of housing by the public and private sectors and/or go beyond the EU’s competence in housing policy and would ask for these to be re-considered in the compromise discussions in advance of the Committee vote.
To read the full position paper: