Despite the decision of the European Parliament in July 2005 to make expenditure on housing renewal eligible for European structural funding, housing is a matter that is generally seen as a national rather than a European competence.
However, in April 2006 an all party group of members of the European Parliament ‘Urban Logement’ published proposals for a European Charter for housing that would make 'healthy, decent and affordable accommodation' a fundamental right of all European Union citizens. The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament that consists of the European Parliament president and the chairs of the political parties have now adopted the Charter.
The Charter outlines the potential of housing policies to contribute to the social, economic and territorial cohesion in the European Union. It also stresses that sustainable urban development must be complemented by sustainable housing policies that promote energy efficiency and stem urban sprawl. The Charter urges the use of European Union funds to renovate social housing.
The Charter identifies housing as a problem in all European Union states, calls for housing to be ‘integrated into the economic, social and territorial cohesion policy ofthe European Union’ and says:
“Housing is a field at the heart of the social problems met by all European Union countries. Many European cities experience real housing difficulties such as high cost of housing or antiquated buildings, which undeniably affect thequality of life of the citizens.
“The lack of decent accommodation at a moderate price constitutes an obstacle to competitiveness, employment and social inclusion insofar as it weakens even more the most disadvantaged people. Without a proper home it becomes really difficult to find a job, study or simply live in the way that one has the right to live in Europe.
“The purpose of this proposal for a European Charter for Housing is to raise the question, at a European level, of the housing problem in Europe, an issue today largely influenced by many European decisions.
“This text also represents an opportunity to enunciate several principles, such as the right to housing, and to stress the need for the European Union to lead community policies that are able to create a favourable and incentive framework for the Member States’ housing policies.”
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