Housing Europe General Secretary, Sorcha Edwards, Deputy-General Secretary, Julien Djiol and Research Coordinator, Dara Turnbull, along with our Board Members and Directors of our Danish member, BL, Bent Madsen, and Flemish member, VVH, Björn Mallants, took their respective messages to the OECD in Paris on the 21st of February.
The OECD is in the process of preparing a briefing note on social and affordable housing systems in Europe, which is due to be published in the second half of this year. Thus, the purpose of the meeting was to highlight to the OECD the perspectives of our members and communicate our value as part of the overall housing sector in Europe.
We were keen to highlight two key issues to the OECD:
Firstly, the economic rational for investment in social and affordable housing; putting in terms that those from right across the political spectrum could get on board with. Thus, there was high level discussion of the negative impacts of diminishing affordability on labour market mobility, household spending, misallocation of private investment, national competitiveness, educational attainment and household formation. The important role that social housing plays in the functioning of the Danish welfare state and the demonstrable social value of the social housing sector in Flanders were discussed in great detail.
Secondly, we were eager for the OECD to communicate to policymakers that we do not want EU competence in the field of housing, but rather more understanding of the nuances of the policy debate unique individual country to ensure coherence when it comes to EU policy in line with principle 19 of the European Pillar of social rights.
The homeowner-centric nature of the EU Semester assessment metrics, neglecting the important role played by the public rental sector, was highlighted as an example of the need for different thinking.
The case was also made that while the EU has a strong understanding of the public finances in member states, it perhaps could develop a more nuanced understanding and appreciation for the value of social investment.
Overall, our message was well received by OECD staff and we are optimistic that the upcoming report will serve as a channel to communicate our position, and those of our members, to policymakers in Europe.