On March 15th, the European Court of Justice asked the General Court to examine the essence of the arguments of the Dutch Housing Associations who have been seeking for 7 years to annul a decision of the European Commission which paved the way for the introduction of an income ceiling in the Dutch social housing. “Therefore incumbent on the General Court to examine the substance of the appellants’ arguments”.
The Court indeed considered that the Dutch housing associations have a legitimate interest in seeking the annulment of that decision since it has had an effect on their economic activities: “ the Court held, in essence, that the appellants have a legitimate interest in having the decision at issue annulled in so far as it concerns aid measure E 2/2005, since the annulment of that decision would have the effect of maintaining the previous conditions which were more favourable to them”.
The Court will now review the decision of the European Commission regarding the Dutch social housing sector and verify “the accuracy of the facts relied on and that there has been no error of law, manifest error in the assessment of the facts or misuse of powers”.
This ruling gives hope to the Dutch housing associations, that Housing Europe has been supporting, but also to many social housing organisations in Europe that there will be eventually clarity about the role of the European Commission in defining the scope of the SGEI social housing.
Sorcha Edwards, Secretary General of Housing Europe, underlines that "it is vital that mixed neighbourhoods may form part of SGEI activities in European cities. The Dutch case is therefore not an isolated case. Social housing has a role to contribute to an inclusive society that provides social mobility and equal opportunities".