All workers should have their basic rights guaranteed, whatever their form of employment and contract, said MEPs at the Plenary Session on January 19th approving their recommendations on Thursday for the forthcoming proposal on the “European Pillar of Social Rights”. What's in there for housing providers? What to expect in the next steps?
The resolution was passed by 396 votes to 180 with 68 abstentions.
Members of the European Parliament signalled their strong support for the European Union to do more to protect social rights in the vote. This is indeed a positive achievement which reflects the position of Housing Europe highlighting that the EU Pillar should promote a more preventive, efficient and reactive social protection.
In particular, on housing it’s important to keep in mind article 19 of the report:
Calls on the Member States to deliver on the right to adequate housing by ensuring access to quality and affordable housing of adequate size for all, and to prevent and reduce homelessness with a view to its gradual elimination; urges them to enact legislation and/or other measures as needed in order to ensure that access to social housing or adequate housing benefits are provided for those in need, obviously including homeless people and families, and that vulnerable people and poor households are protected against eviction or that adequate alternative housing is provided to them; calls for provision of housing to be combined with relevant social services supporting social and economic inclusion; calls for effective measures to be taken to help young people on low incomes set up their own households; highlights investments in energy-efficient social housing as a win-win for jobs, the environment, reduction of energy poverty and realisation of social rights; calls for greater use of relevant European financial instruments to support urban renewal and affordable, accessible and energy-efficient housing provision and to promote the development of social housing in regions where it is underdeveloped; calls for all forms of criminalisation of poverty, such as measures unfairly sanctioning homelessness or other forms of material deprivation, to be abolished;
Besides, the Report calls for the introduction of legislative measures to ensure fair working conditions for all forms of employment and improve work-life balance, for a re-evaluation of the effectiveness and adequacy of national minimum income schemes and for a forceful fight against tax evasion and avoidance to ensure welfare state sustainability.
One negative outcome of the Report in terms of affordability is that MEPs did not support adequate minimum wages towards 60% of median wages (strong joint opposition from ALDE, EPP and ECR).
Overall, the European Parliament’s vision is improving social rights within the Eurozone. The ambitious report encourages the European institutions to commit to concrete action in the fields of equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, and adequate and sustainable social protection.
The European Commission will prepare its final proposal on the Pillar around March while President Jean-Claude Juncker will host a “Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth” together with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017.
The Pillar has been conceived as a reference framework to screen the employment and social performance, to drive reforms at national level and, more specifically, to urge EU Member States to converge on social standards without creating new legislation. The right to affordable housing is mentioned in the chapter on access to social services.