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A stronger focus on affordable and social housing in the 2019 CSRs

A Housing Europe Analysis

Brussels, 20 June 2019 | Published in Economy, Social

The European Commission published on June 5th its (draft) annual recommendations to the Member States - or 'CSRs'. This year's CSRs confirm the growing importance of affordable and social housing within the European Semester. The recommendations are expected to be endorsed by the Council in early July.

In the overall communication on the country-specific recommendations, the Commission highlights that 'Developments in the housing market can affect financial stability and thereby require action in some Member States. Housing is often the main asset held by households, and, at the same time, housing-related lending accounts for a large share of total lending in the economy.

Moreover, scarcity of adequate and affordable housing is a growing problem in several Member States.

On that account, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are recommended to ‘reduce bottlenecks to housing supply and remove distortions in their housing markets’.

Most importantly, the fact that the European Commission recommends to focus investment specifically on affordable and/or social housing in Ireland, Germany, Latvia, Luxemburg and Slovakia marks an important step forward in terms of focusing the priorities of the Semester on social aspects, in line with the mainstreaming of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Furthermore, the Netherlands and Sweden are also recommended ‘to reduce the debt bias created notably by the tax system, such as mortgage interest deductibility’.

Even in the case of countries that have not received any recommendation specifically related to housing, the introductory text often includes interesting and relevant remarks on the difficulties arising from lack of affordable housing – including Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Spain.

As for France, the text refers to high investment needs in energy efficiency in buildings – and particularly the renovation of the housing sector

We strongly recommend our members to check the recommendations related to their country and to get back to us with comments and feedback. All the communications reporting on the draft CSRs are available – per country and in all official EU languages – at this link.

An interesting commentary from Virginie Toussain of our member organisation USH is available in French here