Socialists push to put housing on EU agenda

Housing ministerial meeting of the Party of European Socialists

PES housing ministerial meeting by videoconference

Housing policy can be a driver for fairer communities and a greener future, socialist and social-democratic ministers responsible for housing said today.

The inaugural PES housing ministerial meeting – chaired by German Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building Klara Geywitz – took place online this afternoon with the participation of European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit.

Although no EU Council formation exists for housing, this policy area is central to multiple European initiatives. For many citizens, housing is the real-world point where the cost of living, wellbeing, community and action on climate change converge.

Meeting Chair, Klara Geywitz, German Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building, said:

“There may be 27 housing markets, but housing is an issue for almost every European. Too many citizens struggle to find good quality homes, and even those with housing are finding it increasingly unaffordable to heat their home.

“That is why action such as the Renovation Wave spearheaded by Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and the Affordable Housing Initiative presented by Commissioner Schmit are so important.

“It is time for solid public investment in social housing, so affordable homes are available to all those in need. As the short-term rental market booms, we need to strike the right balance between tourism and the needs of local communities. And as energy costs rise, so should the efforts that go into increasing the energy efficiency of homes. That is good for citizens and the planet.”

Building on national level action, the PES political family is leading efforts in the European institutions to make housing better for citizens.

In 2020, as part of the European Green Deal, European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced the Renovation Wave – a programme to improve the energy performance of buildings, drive down bills, and create jobs. That year – 2020 – 36 million Europeans were unable to keep their homes adequately warm. At the same time, the heating and cooling of homes accounted for 17.1% of the EU’s final energy consumption – a major part of Europe’s emissions.

In July 2021, Commissioner Schmit presented the Affordable Housing Initiative – part of the Renovation Wave – to provide local social housing projects with access to essential technical and innovation capacity. In 2020, around 8% of the total EU population – nearly 36 million people – were overburdened with housing costs, spending 40% or more of their disposable income on housing.

Also in 2021, the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU also brought the European Commission, the European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), national ministers, civil society, social partners and cities together to agree the Lisbon Declaration on the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Klara Geywitz, Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building, Germany
  • Caroline Gennez, Minister of Development Cooperation and Urban Policy, Belgium
  • Marina Gonçalves, Minister for Housing, Portugal
  • Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, European Commission
  • Pedro Marques, S&D Vice President for a strong social and values-based Europe in the world, S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • Kata Tüttő, Vice President of the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions, First Deputy Mayor of Budapest, PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, Party of European Socialists