Housing Europe News 18.04.2016
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Spring has finally found its way to Brussels, one of the most eventful times of the year in the European capital. Start your week by reading the response of Commissioner Vestager to the letter of Housing Europe, an encouraging European Parliament resolution about the added value of our sector and by checking out the new VAT Action Plan proposed by the European Commission.

In our scan of Europe’s housing news, we report from the UK, France, Belgium and Sweden on some national developments worth sharing. At the same time, we have gathered a number of funding and partnership opportunities; check them out in our "Projects" section but don't forget to find out about a network with a lot of potential that has been established in Bochum.

Before you finish reading, save the dates for the upcoming Housing Europe events, including the Working Committee meetings in June - the schedule is now available.

Quick Links  Before starting to read, please allow us to give you a tip:
Go to the homepage of and log in, so that you are able to access all members only links (indicated with *). This guide will help you.

Commissioner Vestager responds to Housing Europe letter

“I note [..] your points regarding the definition of social housing in the SGEI decision. You are of course welcome to contribute further on this issue, once the SGEI come up next for review.”

Commissioner for Competition replied to the letter of Housing Europe taking note of the concerns raised and inviting us to further contribute in light of the upcoming review of the SGEI rules in the beginning of 2017.

Housing Europe had highlighted in its letter sent to both Commissioner Vestager and to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans the need for better EU rules for better services of general interest in housing.

The initiative was taken within the framework of the “Housing 4 All” campaign, as one of its five pillars is dedicated to better EU regulation.
You may read both letters on our website

Watch the video of our campaign
(now available with subtitles in English, French, German, Greek and Hungarian).
Combating increasing household costs and fuel poverty-European Parliament resolution highlights the key role of social housing
European Parliament Initiative Report on the antipoverty target in the light of increasing household costs was adopted at the latest plenary session in Strasbourg. The non-binding resolution of MEP Tamas Meszerics (Greens, Hungary) was passed by 310 votes to 73, with 26 abstentions on Thursday, 14 April 2016.

As a result of the advocacy work carried out by Housing Europe, "housing" is mentioned more than 71 times and social housing 11 times in the report.

Read our analysis
European Commission VAT Action Plan: More autonomy for Member States to choose their own rates policy

Under the current rules, Member States need to stick to a pre-defined list of goods and services when it comes to applying zero or reduced VAT rates. The Commission plans to modernise the framework for rates and to give Member States more flexibility in future.

It proposes two options: one option would be to maintain the minimum standard rate of 15% and to review regularly the list of goods and services which can benefit from reduced rates, based on Member States' input. The second option would abolish the list of goods and services that can benefit from reduced rates. This would, however, require safeguards to prevent fraud, avoid unfair tax competition within the Single Market and it could also increase compliance costs for businesses. Under both options, the currently applicable zero and reduced rates would be maintained.

Read more
Apply now for the European Responsible Housing Awards 2016!

Jointly organised by Housing Europe, Delphis and the International Union of Tenants, the competition showcases innovative best practices and promotes exchange of knowledge between local housing providers who promote local, social and environmental sustainability, good governance and responsible HR management.

NEW DEADLINE for applications: June 1st 2016

Find out more all you need to know about the awards on this BUILD UP article

Terms and conditions are now available in Dutch, Swedish and French

Apply now!
Building stronger European partnerships

The European Education Center for Housing and Real Estate Economy EBZ, a charitable foundation operating under the sponsorship of the Housing Europe German member organisation, GdW established on April 7th ENH, a network that aims to promote stronger and more effective partnerships within the framework of EU projects.

Housing Europe Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards took part at the event. Sorcha presented on the one hand the added value that the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing brings to EU projects based to its extensive experience, while she also had the chance to share with the rest of participants the housing related EU funding opportunities.

Read our report from the event in Bochum
Reception and integration of refugees: cities on the frontline
A challenge for housing providers

On 4 April 2016, Housing Europe participated in the Policy dialogue organized by the European Policy Centre (EPC) and EUROCITIES on the ‘Reception and integration of refugees: cities on the frontline’.

The findings of the report recently published by EUROCITIES “Social affairs refugee reception and integration in cities” and first-hand information about the situation on the ground in various European cities were also shared with the audience.

Housing Europe Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards underlined in her intervention the need to increase the affordable housing stock in cities, highlighting the challenges that housing providers are facing, since they are the ones that are supposed to house all people in need.

Read more about the event
UK: Supporting greener social housing in London

A EUR 480m (GBP 400m) EIB loan to The Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (THFC) is supporting retrofitting measures and the construction of highly energy-efficient new housing across the UK. THFC is an independent, specialist organisation that makes loans to regulated housing associations, which provide affordable housing throughout the UK.

The funding from the EIB for this social housing scheme will be complemented by investment from the London Green Fund, which is managed by the Bank, and will target retrofitting schemes in the London area.

Read more
France: Controversial bill affects social housing

On 13 April the French government has presented its draft bill on “equality and citizenship”. As a response to the terrorist attacks of January in Paris, the legislation focuses on the use of social housing as the main leverage to address the ghettoization issue. It aims at attracting middle classes in neighbourhoods by making it easier for them to gain access to social housing.

The bill has raised the issue of social mix policies and has triggered numerous debates in French society. For our French member, USH (Union Sociale pour l’ Habitat), this bill is insufficient and ineffective.

Read more about the reaction of USH
Belgium: Boosting the public housing supply in Brussels

Our Belgian member organisation SLRB held a conference on 13r April to promote its public/private partnership (PPP) call to build 500 new affordable homes in Brussels. SLRB is hoping to encourage private developers to come up with innovative housing projects that the organization will finance.

With a budget of 197 million Euros, this call is one of the biggest housing PPP in Brussels. This project is incorporated within the framework of the investment policy relaunch in Brussels public housing, through the Alliance Habitat construction plan that started in 2013.

Read more

Articles & Publications
How should we live in the future? HSB launches its "Living Lab"

HSB Living Lab is the only one of its kind in the world. It’s a residential building for up to 40 students, guest researchers and doctoral students at the heart of Campus Johanneberg in Gothenburg, Sweden.

In HSB Living Lab new technologies and innovations are created, while behavioral research gets an exciting new arena. One of the project goals is to develop knowledge about technology that conserves resources. But also how people can reduce resource use through behavior and lifestyle choices.

Read more & get a virtual tour thanks to an HSB video
N. Ireland: The Positive Impact of Social Housing Provision

“Research conducted last year for the NIHE showed that social housing organisations in Northern Ireland made a total annual economic contribution in the order of £1.2b, collectively supporting more than 15,000 FTE jobs. So, an investment in housing is about more than meeting housing needs; it is an investment in our wider economy, and unlike many other forms of investment, this money is largely retained within Northern Ireland.”

Housing Europe Board Member and Interim Chief Executive at Helm, John McPeake is making the case for the multiple added value of social housing ahead of the upcoming election in N.Ireland.

Read his blog post on the website of NIFHA
UK: Where do four leading London mayoral candidates stand on housing?

The biggest issue for Londoners is housing. Dawn Foster of Guardian Housing asks Siân Berry, Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan and Caroline Pidgeon to reveal their housing policies.

Read all statements
Can mass migration boost innovation and productivity?

The long-term impact of migration on innovation and productivity growth in host countries is a neglected issue in the current debate on refugees. Research shows that these effects can be substantial, but if Europe wants to capitalize on this potential it will need better information systems to match migrants’ skill sets with host environments.

Read the blog post by Bruegel, one of the leading think tanks in Brussels

Call on Project Development Assistance under the Societal Challenges Pillar (*)
And more opportunities under Horizon 2020

The call focuses on the sectors of existing public and private buildings; street lighting; retrofitting of existing district heating/ cooling; energy efficiency in urban transport (such as transport fleets, the logistics chain, e-mobility, modal change and shift) in urban/sub-urban agglomerations and other densely populated areas and energy efficiency in industry and services.

Find out more on our “European Funding” portal

Check out the latest Horizon 2020 Open Calls
Reduction of youth unemployment and the setup of co-operatives - A call for cooperation

This call concentrates on promoting the cooperative form in education and putting forward cooperative entrepreneurship, an essential element of our European strategy. Cooperatives Europe will be contacting interested members over the coming days, in order to ensure proper coordination for putting together two complimentary project consortia.
Submission deadline: 30 June 2016
Starting date of the action: 1 January 2017 (Max duration of the project: 1 year)

Find out more
ABRACADABRA project website is launched

The project with the "magic name", in which Housing Europe is taking part, aims at strengthening the key investors’ confidence, increasing quality and attractiveness of the existing buildings’ stock and, finally, reaching a concrete market acceleration towards the Nearly Zero Energy Buildings target.

You may now visit the project website

Following the kick-off project meeting in Bologna, the project alliance has opened the first call for papers in light of the 1st international workshop that will be hosted in the Italian city, too. Best papers will be invited for an extended version in the Energy and Building, Special Issue “Nearly Zero Energy in existing buildings” by 30 September 2016.

Papers due: 23 May 2016Find out more information
The new European Energy Efficiency Platform (E3P)

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) launched on 5 April the new European Energy Efficiency Platform (E3P). The rationale behind this initiative is the recognised need to gather, organise, analyse and display in a central system all scattered data related to the six thematic areas of energy efficiency: in products, cities, buildings, transports, industry and distribution (heating, cooling and electricity).

More on the E3P

Save the dates!
All upcoming Housing Europe events
Visit the "Events" section on our website to get an overview of all Housing Europe events until November 2016. 

The schedule of the upcoming Working Committee meetings is now available, too. The draft agenda will follow in the beginning of May. 
Cost effective Housing Policies in the European Union
Final event of the PROGRESS program - June 20, Brussels
The two-day (20 & 21 June) conference in Brussels will lead the project to a conclusion. The action is a close cooperation between the Flemish government, academics and stakeholders, each having their own responsibilities concerning the preparation of housing policy.
The first day is targeted towards an international audience of academics and stakeholders, while the second day is mainly targeted towards a Flemish public. The first day will be held at the Committee of the Regions, the second at the Flemish Parliament (zaal De Schelp), both in Brussels. Housing Europe is responsible for the preparation of the international conference on June 20th.

Check out the draft agenda
Semaine nationale des Hlm 2016
The French Social Housing Providers come together

The fourth edition of the National Social Housing Week (Semaine Nationale des Hlm), organized by l’Union Sociale pour l’Habitat (USH), will take place from 4 to 12 June.

This year, the focus will be on “Being a player in a changing society”, aiming to highlight the challenges that social housing providers have to address.

Read more in a brief tribute on our website
Towards a modern & energy efficient future for cooperative housing - A Conference organised by Housing Europe and its Hungarian member, LOSZ
Budapest, 28 April 2016
The development of energy efficient modernization of condominium residences and of buildings owned by housing cooperatives. The National Federation of Housing Cooperatives Hungary (LOSZ), the Hungarian member organisation of Housing Europe organises an international conference on energy efficiency for cooperative housing with a focus on the best practices that could stimulate energy efficient modernization in Hungary.

Participants are invited to discuss the question of refurbishments resulting energy efficiency in condominium residences and in buildings owned by housing cooperatives. The Board of LOSZ noted that the energy efficient modernization in Hungarian housing stock is lagging behind and believes that reducing energy costs would lead to real savings of the maintenance costs of households in the long run.

Find out more and register now!
EUROCITIES Workshop on Affordable Housing
Brussels, April 26th

EUROCITIES organises an interactive workshop on affordable housing. This meeting will take place in the Permanent Representation of the Catalan Government in Brussels, and will gather city experts, EU institutions, NGOs and Housing associations to discuss the way affordable housing is delivered in cities, what are the main challenges and how they could be addressed. Housing Europe will be among the event speakers, too.

Check out the agenda & register online
Energy Savings Summit 2016: Brighter, Better, Bolder
Brussels, 25 May 2016

2016 is the implementation year for the Energy Union, and the European Commission has promised to deliver high ambition on energy efficiency.
• How will the EU put energy efficiency first in its climate and energy plans?
• How will the extension of the energy efficiency framework boost energy efficiency markets and investments?

The 2016 Energy Savings Summit, organised by the Coalition for Energy Savings- Housing Europe is a member- is the leading conference dedicated to energy efficiency in Brussels ahead of the adoption of proposals by the European Commission.

Find out more & register
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