Housing Europe News 23.01.2017
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Brussels is now back in action, bracing for a new year which is sure to 
be a challenging one for the European Union. The European Parliament now has a new President with Italian former Commissioner Antonio Tajani succeeding Martin Schulz, reshuffling the cards of political balance in EU's elected body. 

What to expect in the months to come from Housing Europe? Our Secretary General guides you through the first semester of the year, while we sum up all key developments for the moment, particularly related to VAT and European Investment Plan (EFSI). 

As housing is a political priority in many EU Member States we follow the various initiatives taken by our member organisations. Follow us to France, the UK, Belgium and Italy to find out more.

In our suggested reads you may travel to Hong Kong this week for an insightful report by VVH Communications Executive, Els Matthysen but also to Sweden and in the Netherlands with SABO explaining how the country can become attractive to foreign construction companies and with Dutch Youth and Refugees jointly running an inspiring housing project respectively.

We have a lot to share with you in our 'Projects' section as new funding opportunities have opened and interesting events are approaching.

Last but not least, there are many events that should find their way to your agenda. Scroll all the way till the end of this newsletter to save the dates and get all the information available.

Best wishes from all of us in Brussels for a smooth start into the new year!

Enjoy the read!

Quick Links 

At the starting lin
Housing Europe Secretary General guides you through the first semester of our activities
What to expect in the first semester of 2017 from Housing Europe? Our Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards highlights the milestones for the months to come. 
The first of the Secretariat’s engagement at Members events will kick off...
Working on social inclusion with the help of the EU Investment Plan

On 28 November 2016, Housing Europe Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards was speaking at the EASPD seminar in Brussels on the occasion of the European Day of Persons with Disabilities. The aim of the Policy seminar was to give information to EASPD members (social service providers) about EFSI and its potential to be used for social service projects. Sorcha presented the perspective of Housing Europe and how affordable housing providers use EFSI for social inclusion purposes.

Read more
European Commission Public Consultation on the reform of VAT rates

The European Commission (DG Taxud) has opened a consultation on 20 December 2016 on the special scheme for small enterprises under the VAT Directive. Under this process, the Commission is seeking opinion from stakeholders on the current VAT provisions for SMEs and their application, in order to review the SME Scheme.

The deadline for contributions is 20 March 2017.

Read more
Spain: European Court of Justice orders Spanish Banks to repay billions to mortgage borrowers

Europe’s highest court ruled on 21 December 2016 that customers of banks in Spain can reclaim billions of euros because lenders did not pass on savings from interest rate cuts on variable-rate mortgages. “Such a limitation makes consumer protection incomplete and insufficient and is not an adequate and effective means for preventing the use of unfair terms”, claims the ruling.

Read more
UK: The Governmental boost to affordable housing and the NHF ‘To Do’ list for 2017

In the dawn of the new year, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Sajid Javid has unlocked £7bn in an expansion of the government’s affordable housing programme, a decision that was welcomed by the National Housing Federation (NHF). At the same time, the NHF have already gotten down to work on their 2017 Housing ‘To Do’ list.
Read more on our blog
“Yes to Social Housing”: USH campaigns ahead of the French Presidential Election

Housing Europe French member, L’ Union Sociale pour l’ Habitat (USH) launched on January 18th their campaign “Yes to Social Housing” (Oui au lodgement social) making the case for the key role of social housing on the political agenda ahead of the Presidential Election in spring.

Read more on our blog
Health Poverty & Housing: the Semester Alliance calls on Commission to address key challenges in Latvia

Latvia faces major challenges in relation to healthcare and poverty, particularly as regards adequate social protection, and access to affordable housing. The report ‘Focus on Latvia’ proposes suggestions from the Semester Alliance similar to the Country Specific Recommendations that are needed in 2017 to begin to tackle the major challenges across these three policy areas.

Read more
Netherlands: EIB supports Sint Trudo foundation for energy neutral social housing

Dutch Social housing foundation Sint Trudo and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed on 19 December 2016 a financing agreement of EUR 150 million. The facility made available by the EIB will be used for new, largely energy neutral, housing as well as making existing social housing more sustainable.

Read more
Belgium: SLRB inaugurates 8 passive social homes

On 14 December our Belgian member, SLRB inaugurated its new housing project. Built by SLRB and managed by Brussels Region Housing Department the complex under the name ‘Plume’ includes 8 social housing units that are 100% passive. The two dwellings were designed to be very compact and to offer a lot of light to their inhabitants but also to the passers-by in the Marolles district in the heart of Brussels.

Read more (in French) and see more pictures
Just before Christmas SLRB presented their logo as well. Check it out here and feel free to send them your feedback.
Italy: The Social Housing Cooperative Manager

In Italy, within the Social Housing Cooperative sector, the emerging housing model is strongly characterized by both the centrality of social management and the willing of starting-up collaborative communities. How could Italian housing cooperatives make the most out of their unique character both in terms of management and with regard to access to funding mechanisms?

Read more about the latest initiative of out Italian Cooperative members
What’s next for the Greek housing sector?

Housing Europe Secretary General welcomed Evi Kaila, the representative of the former Greek member of the European Federation, OEK. Evi who now works for the Greek Ministry of Social Solidarity shared with Sorcha some of the latest political developments exploring ways of potential collaboration. At the same time, according to the latest figures, the construction activity in the country keeps falling, reaching a historical low point, while more and more Greeks refuse to inherit properties.

Read more on our blog

Articles & Publications
Τhe tiny houses of Hong Kong

Hong Kong - the city in the southeast of China which is known for its wealth and its luxurious high-rises (high buildings) - has a chronic shortage of viable and affordable housing. The largest share of the private rental market is not affordable and the average cost of housing eats up more than 50% of people’s disposable income contributing to rising poverty.
Els Matthysen, Communications Executive of our member, VVH - the Federation of Flemish Social Housing Companies went to Hong Kong to have a closer look at the city's housing challenges.

Read more on our blog
How Sweden can make things easier for foreign construction companies - A SABO explainer

Complicated contracts, complex building and work environment rules, and documents only available in Swedish. Construction companies wishing to enter the Swedish market and fulfill the potential of the European Union face many challenges. This is underlined by a report from the Housing Europe member, SABO- the Swedish Association of Public Housing Companies, an industry and interest organisation.

Read the Johanna Ode’s article on our blog
Netherlands: In Amsterdam, Dutch Youth and Refugees Run a Housing Project Together

Startblok Riekerhaven is a ‘European laboratory’ for housing and integrating a wave of refugees. The white prefab housing blocks dropped in a field next to a highway bypass here don’t look like much. But the project known as Startblok Riekerhaven is an innovative housing experiment—and social experiment—worth watching.

Read more on CityLab
EAPN report: 'Nobody left behind'

EAPN, the European Anti-Poverty Network releases 'Nobody left behind' report mapping the reality of access to housing and health services in EU and proposing key messages and recommendations to national and EU policy makers.

Check out the key messages & access this booklet

Getting our homes future ready: A Housing Europe Training Session
8 March, Brussels

An initiative of Housing Europe as part of the PROF/TRAC project that aims at:
  1. Identifying and promoting the skills and training needs in the field of housing retrofitting
  2. Sharing common understanding between the stakeholders of the housing renovation markets by building upon other flagship programmes
  3. Informing the policy at the EU level on the training and skills needed to achieve a fair energy transition
New section launched in ‘European Funding’ portal (*)
The European Fund for Sustainable Development

In December 2016, the EU Council agreed on a New Funding Tool, the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) under the new External Investment Plan (EIP). The call is particularly interesting for our members under the EU Neighbourhood Policy and also other third countries dealing with migration influx.

Log in to our website to read more
Emergency European Funding for Housing (*)

Following the several natural disasters during 2016, including the earthquake in Italy and firea in Portugal, several Members of Housing Europe contacted our Secretariat to get more information about the available EU programmes in support of the housing sector. There are two main opportunities at EU level which could be of help in case of future challenges.

Log in to our website to read more
First Urban Innovative Actions Projects get online

The webpages dedicated to the first Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) projects are now online. 18 innovative projects have been approved in the framework of the 1st UIA Call for Proposals. Each of them has a dedicated webpage that provides information on the specific challenges addressed, describe the innovative solution proposed as well as the expected results outlining the milestones of the implementation process.

Read more
Webinar: Business models for the next generation of solar PV deployment in the EU
Monday, 6 February 15:00-16:00 CET
In this webinar the PV Financing team will be presenting the conclusions of a year and a half’s research into new and up and coming business models and financing schemes for solar. They will look at three of the most innovative business models from the national markets – Power Purchase Agreements in the UK, collective self-consumption in France and the Mieterstrom neighbor solar supply in Germany. For more info check out the latest report on EU-wide business models.

Registration is free but mandatory – you may sign up here

Housing Europe March 2017 meetings
Working Committees and European RETROFIT day

Housing Europe members are gathering again in Brussels in the second week of March (8-9/3/2017) for a one-day training on energy transition in public, cooperative and social housing as well as for the first Working Committee meetings of the year.

Find out more & register for both events
Enter the World Habitat Awards 2017-18!

Every year, two outstanding housing projects are selected as winners of the World Habitat Awards. Entries are now open for the 2017-18 awards. Housing Europe member, BSHF is looking for housing projects and approaches which demonstrate practical, innovative and sustainable solutions to current housing issues all around the world, viewing the term ‘habitat’ from a broad perspective and bring other benefits as well, such as energy saving, income generation, social inclusion, community and individual empowerment, education etc.

The winning projects will receive a £10,000 prize and international recognition for their achievements along with the chance to attend an award ceremony at a global UN event in 2018. All entries must be received by 1 March 2017.

Read more 
World Sustainable Energy Days 2017
1-3 March - Wels, Austria
The 2017 edition of the World Sustainable Energy Days, one of Europe’s largest annual conferences in this field, offers 8 conferences and 3 interactive events covering technologies, policies and markets. For more than 20 years, experts from all over the world have gathered in Upper Austria to attend the conference - in 2016, the event attracted over 700 participants from 57 countries. The conference makes an important contribution to awareness raising about renewable energy and energy efficiency. Housing Europe has been among the invited experts many times.

Find out more and register
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