Housing Europe Newsletter 27.02.2015
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Energy Union and the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedures hit the Brussels headlines over the last week. Following the announcement of the European Fund for Strategic Investments the new college of Commissioners, the #TeamJucker has started delivering on its agenda, creating quite a few policy hooks for Housing Europe and its members.

Scroll through this edition of our newsletter to read our response to the official announcement of the Energy Union Framework Strategy by the European Commission Vice-President in charge, Maroš Šefčovič. Have a look at the latest decisions regarding the Macroeconomic Imbalances and send us your feedback. See how SGEIs are positioned within the European Parliament Report on EU Competition Policy as well as what President Schulz said about the affordable housing sector during a European Council meeting. Of course, a lot more is to be found in our news segment.

Our Annual Report of 2014 is now available to refresh your memory regarding the highlights of last along with other articles and publications worth reading.

Stay tuned with the latest developments regarding the European Projects and initiatives Housing Europe is taking part in promoting exchange on tackling energy poverty with new refurbishment solutions and local solar energy production in social housing, innovative approaches to combining housing and social support and housing centred ways to address youth poverty.

In our listing of events this week, don't forget to download eveything you need for the Housing Europe Working Committee meetings and to register for the Power House and the Communication Network events in Brussels...

Before starting to read, please allow us to give you a tip:
Go to the homepage of (ideally using any other browser than Internet Explorer) and log in by clicking on the lock on the top right side using your credentials. You will then be able to access all links that are for members only (indicated with *).

Housing Europe responds to the Energy Union official announcement

The EU needs a citizen-oriented Energy Union- Why the housing sector holds the key to a fair energy transition

In the press release issued a few hours after the announcement of the Energy Union framework strategy by the European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, Housing Europe stated that buildings not only account for 40% of the overall energy consumption in Europe but, with the right incentive and policy framework, also hold the key to a fair energy transition.

The President of Housing Europe, Marc Calon explained in a statement why a consumer oriented approach is needed and welcomed this emphasis in the communication:
‘Empowering and involving citizen-consumers and communities will be key to unlocking the full potential of every green energy transition strategy. A successful Energy Union requires the trust of citizens.
The public, cooperative and social housing sector is committed to reducing our carbon footprint while ensuring better living conditions for residents coupled with affordable running costs. Our renovation strategies are showing that this can and is being done.’

You may read the full press release on our website

Yesterday, our team in Brussels took part in the twitter chat with Mr. Šefčovič (picture) clarifying whether the European Fund for Strategic Investments will also flow towards local energy efficiency projects and not only towards large scale infrastructure ones.

You may read a report of the whole chat on Storify
European Semester 2015: European Commission announces decisions (*)

European Commission Vice-President, Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs presented on Wednesday, February 25th the decisions on the Macroeconomic Imbalances. To date the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden have been identified as having imbalances linked to the housing sector.

Of the 16 countries identified in November as experiencing macroeconomic imbalances, the Commission stepped up the procedure for three countries: France (stage 5), Germany (stage 3) and Bulgaria (stage 5). For two countries, the Commission opened the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP): Portugal and Romania; for Slovenia, the Commission deescalates the procedure. The other 10 countries will see no change in their status. The Commission also recommends that France be given until 2017 to correct its excessive deficit.
You may see all recommendations here

The Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) is a surveillance mechanism that aims to identify potential risks early on, prevent the emergence of harmful macroeconomic imbalances and correct the imbalances that are already in place.
The annual starting point of the MIP is the Alert Mechanism Report. Housing Europe had sent you an analysis of the findings of the Alert Mechanism Report that was released together with the Annual Growth Survey in November 2014.

We invite you to provide us with your feedback regarding the European Commission reviews. Please contact Alice Pittini  
FEANTSA: The EU Needs Stable and Inclusive Housing Markets
FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless) 
has issued its own statement as a response to analysis of housing markets in the 
Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure. FEANTSA emphasizes that housing systems play a
 central role in generating or mitigating poverty and 
social exclusion and urges the Commission and Member States to take this fully into account when designing housing policies and macroeconomic, budgetary and structural interventions that affect housing markets.

You may download the statement as PDF here or view it online here
SGEIs in the European Parliament Report on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy

The European Parliament will discuss an own initiative report on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy during its plenary sitting on March 10th according to schedule.

There is a chapter in the report dedicated to State aid and Services of General Economic Interest (SGEIs). §15 on page 10 reads:  

‘Notes that SGEIs represent a significant share of total service provision in Member States, and maintains that their more efficient provision (compared to other services) can deliver significant gains; reaffirms the importance of the SGEI designation for universally accessible services that are of vital significance to European citizens, from healthcare to social security to housing provision, while at the same time stressing the Commission’s responsibility to ensure that compensation granted to SGEIs is compatible with EU state aid rules;’

This is a considerable improvement on the first draft. Rapporteur for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs report was Morten Messerschmidt (ECR, Denmark).

We believe this is a good compromise amendment and we invite you to call the MEPs in your country to support it. You may find the full text of the report here 
European Parliament President, Martin Schulz stresses importance of access to affordable housing

Over a speech during an informal meeting of the European Council on the future of the European Monetary Union (EMU), the European Parliament, Martin Schulz highlighted the importance of access to affordable housing:

'The European Parliament has been calling for a strong social pillar within the EMU for quite some time. (...) We want wages that enable people to live in dignity, high-quality public services, access to affordable housing and a programme of social housing construction, guaranteed universal access to basic health care, protection of social and employment rights, equal pay and equal rights for equal work and jobs for young people.'

You may read the full speech here
Deadline for Sustainable Energy Europe Awards extended- New deadline: March 16th

Launched by the European Commission in 2006, year after year the Awards highlight the very best sustainable energy projects taking place across Europe today.

For this 9th edition, the Awards include three categories:
  • Renewable energy
  • Energy efficiency
  • Cities, communitites and regions
Who can participate? Eligible are private companies, public authorities, energy agencies, NGO’s, cooperatives, chambers of commerce, industry and consumers associations, media, academic institutions and research and technological centres. EU-funded projects are encouraged to participate in the competition.

Find out more information and apply online

Articles & Publications
E- Yearbook 2014: The Housing Europe Annual Report

It has been a year of both big internal changes and big policy development for Housing Europe. Follow us in a brief tour through our most important milestones.

‘We must bring people’s daily concerns to policy makers’
 Foreword by President Marc Calon:
 ‘If people do not have a degree of certainty about their future, of having a roof over their head, an income, assurance of safety in their neighborhood there is no confidence and no sustainable growth.
Current trends of reduced employment stability, evictions and ghettoization in our cities are detrimental for our societal development. We must make the link between people’s every day concerns and policy makers at national and EU levels.’

Read and download the report on our website
New report: Boosting finance in energy efficiency investments in buildings, industry and SMEs

The Energy Efficiency Financial Institution Group (EEFIG) published its latest report on 26 February 2015, containing recommendations on a range of actions that could help overcome the current challenges to obtaining long-term financing for energy efficiency.

The EEFIG, an expert group set-up by the European Commission and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative identifies a "very strong economic, social and competitive rationale for the up-scaling of energy efficiency investments in buildings and industry in the EU". It points out that investment in energy efficiency is of strategic importance for the EU since it is a "cost effective manner to reduce the EU's reliance, and expenditure, on energy imports over €400 billion a year."

The report recommends measures such as the creation of energy and cost database for buildings and the development of a project rating system to provide a transparent assessment of the technical and financial risks of energy renovation projects for buildings.

You may download the full report here or an executive summary here

The German State of North Rhine-Westphalia joins the European Responsible Housing Initiative

The Ministry of Construction, Housing, City Development and Traffic of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia joined the list of supporters of the European Responsible Housing Declaration. At a small ceremony that followed a meeting with representatives of Housing Europe, GdW and the IUT, Minister Michael Groschek signed the European Declaration.

The Declaration has been one of the key outcomes of the European Responsible Housing Initiative (ERHIN) that was launched by Delphis, Housing Europe, and the International Union of Tenants in 2013, building a broad network of partners that are implementing CSR strategies within the affordable housing sector creating thus responsible housing. This written commitment of numerous housing stakeholders across Europe aims at the implementation of CSR principles in the affordable housing sector.

Find out more on our website
Survey on the performance of the EaSI Programme (*)

The European Commission has launched an online questionnaire today to collect stakeholders' opinions on the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)

EaSI is an EU level financial instrument aiming to contribute to the implementation of Europe 2020. It provides financial support for the Union's objectives in terms of promoting a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions.

EaSI has now launched a survey to find out stakeholders' opinion on its performance. Filling out the questionnaire should take approximately 15 minutes.

You may file your responses here 
More information on EaSI on our European Funding Portal

Housing Europe Working Committee Meetings (*)
9-10 March in Brussels

Please let us remind you that the next meetings of the Housing Europe Working Committees will take place in Brussels at the premises of Social Platform (in the same building where the Housing Europe offices are located but on the ground floor) on March 9th and 10th.
Power House nearly Zero Energy Challenge Forthcoming Events

March is the final month for Power House nearly Zero Energy Challenge and is going to be full of events across Europe. No matter where you are, you will have the opportunity to review the main conclusions of the taskforces or participate at a capacity building workshop.

19-20 March 2015, Marseilles - Warm/Mediterranean climates TaskForce Workshop and Study Visits

The Workshop will hear the MED TaskForce findings as well as the experiences of the hosting housing company on nZEB. The next day participants will visit two projects, refurbishment and new built.

19 March 2015, Tallinn - 8th Baltic Housing Conference - Innovative building renovation solutions for multi-apartment residential buildings

Our Estonian member EKYL sends a warm invitation to all Housing Europe members and partners. More information and link to the registration

24 March 2015, Brussels - European Fund for Strategic Investment and Energy Union: opportunities and challenges for the social housing sector – some lessons from the POWER HOUSE nZEC project!

This event is targeting Housing Europe Members interested in accessing the fund, EU Policy Makers and relevant Brussels-based Stakeholders. Werner Schmidt, the coordinator of the Taskforce for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and head of the ‘Environmental and Regional Development Department’ within the European Investment Bank with direct responsibility for the urban and housing sector has confirmed his participation. To feed the discussion on the EFSI and Energy Union we will present on the findings of the Financing TaskForce and the results of the energy consumption monitoring activities (the HIVE database) that fed the discussion around Cost Optimality. More information and draft agenda
The Housing Europe Communication Network (*)
Setting up a European Responsible Housing Campaign

A first meeting on March 23rd in Brussels to establish a network that brings together Housing Europe Communication Officers and representatives of our members who deal with public affairs.

The event is an opportunity to introduce everyone to the Brussels scene and brainstorm around the idea of a European campaign about the concept of Responsible Housing.

Find out more and register to take part
Conference: 'Reconciling economic growth and social progress: a challenge?'

The Progressive Economy initiative of the Socialists and Democrats Political Group will hold its annual conference on the 4th of March. The authors of the 2015 independent Annual Growth Survey will be also present to answer any questions raised.

This will be followed by a high-level debate on how the EU agenda can reconcile economic growth and social progress. The main speakers are:
  • Commissioner Moscovici
  • Luxembourg Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Economy, Nicolas Schmit
  • MEP Maria João Rodrigues and
  • Professor Peter Bofinger of the German Council of Economic Experts.
The event will be held from 15.00 to 18.15 in the European Parliament. You may find the full programme and register to the event here
FEDARENE is launching the Roger Léron Award

FEDARENE, the European Federation of Agencies and Regions for Energy and the Environment has launched its award to acknowledge persistency, a proactive approach, bringing a successful contribution to sustainable energy at regional and / or local level in Europe.

Each year as from 2015, the winner (an individual or an organisation) will receive the trophy during a ceremony in June, in Brussels.
The Award is named in memory of Roger Léron who was president of FEDARENE from 1990 to 2007 and a great contributor to the regional and local sustainable energy field throughout his life.

You may apply or nominate an individual or organisation by 15 April 2015
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