Focus Ireland today welcomed today’s recommendation by the European Union that the Irish Government should ‘increase the provision of social and affordable housing”, accompanied by a warning of “potential risks of deepening inequalities, entrenched poverty and social exclusion”.
The recommendation comes in the European Council’s influential ‘2020 Country Specific Recommendation to Ireland’, part of the European Union’s influential ‘Annual Semester’ process which monitors adherence to financial and social commitments.
In recent years the European Union has been annually ramping up its warnings to Ireland that not enough is being achieved to tackle its housing and homelessness crisis. But up until this year these comments have been confined to the preamble where they can be ignored. This year’s recommendations take a decisive step forward by including the call for more social and affordable housing as one of four ‘Recommendations’, which Member States are required to take seriously and report progress the following year.
“This is a timely reminder for the parties involved in Government formation negotiations that our housing and homelessness crisis is a concern not just of our electorate but stands out as a national failure which must be addressed. It is also timely in that it allows the parties working to form a new Government to engage constructively with the European Union about what direct and indirect help can be forthcoming to assist Ireland in tackling these issues, ” said Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy in Focus Ireland.
“There are many reasons why Ireland has failed to deliver sufficient social and affordable housing for its people, but among the challenges have been restrictive and damaging EU rules – such as strict limits on Government borrowing for productive investment in housing and the damaging decision of Eurostat to include borrowing by Approved Housing Bodies as part of the overall Government debt. The parties forming the new Government must act on this recommendation but they must also use it to seek reforms at EU level which will allow us to reach the investment levels in housing which are required if the recommendation is to be met.
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