ENLIGHTEN, a research project financed by the EU whose objective was to analyze the way the EU responded to the Global Financial Crisis and the impact thereof on sectors such as health and social housing, came to an end in April 2018. Housing Europe was among the non-academic partners alongside with European Trade Union Confederation, Finance Watch, and Tax Justice Network. The main relevant findings for the social, cooperative and public housing sectors were the following:
- The way the EU has dealt with the Global Financial Crisis has been marked by a strong legitimacy deficit, in particular because the concepts, ideas and policies promoted as a way to overcome the crisis such as “structural reforms”, “fiscal consolidation”, were copied from international institutions like the IMF and OECD and implemented without proper discussion with stakeholders at the EU level
- The European Semester as an important tool to prevent future crisis and divergence across the EU has confirmed this trend of ‘importing’ concepts and policies in European countries without the necessary discussion about the local circumstances
- This trend has been noticed in the field of public health (which has seen trend towards marketization and residualisation– i.e. increasing role of private providers at the expense of public providers and a universal approach) but also in the field of social housing
- For social housing, the ENLIGHTEN researchers have identified a paradigm shift going from the consideration of housing as a social right to housing as an asset and ultimately and increasingly housing as an individual patrimony which will reinforce inequalities. This trend has been fed by policies aiming at reducing public expenditure in areas like housing in order to comply with the objective of fiscal consolidation
For Housing Europe, the ENLIGHTEN findings shed a critical light on the way the European Semester works and reinforce the need for civil society to engage with EU institutions to ensure that policy recommendations made by the European Commission to the Member States are evidence-based and relevant for public policies.