The European Semester is the annual cycle of economic and social policy coordination in the EU, and focuses primarily on budgetary discipline and macroeconomic stability. However, attention to social issues including homelessness and housing exclusion has gradually increased over time. Since 2017, the Semester has been put forward as the main mechanism for supporting progress on the European Pillar of Social Rights, including Principle 19 on housing and housing assistance for the homeless. This year’s Semester was the first to be underpinned by the Revised Joint Employment Guidelines adopted in June 2018, including guideline 8 on equal opportunities, social inclusion and combatting poverty, which states that “for those in need or in a vulnerable situation, Member States should ensure access to adequate social housing or housing assistance. Homelessness should be tackled specifically”.
This paper reviews the 2019 Semester from the perspective of FEANTSA. It looks at the country reports and Country Specific Recommendations to assess how well homelessness and housing exclusion are tackled.
In the 2019 Semester, FEANTSA found improved analysis of the housing situation in the Member States, including more frequent and detailed attention to homelessness and housing exclusion. For the first time, this fed through to Country Specific Recommendations in two cases. There was also a strong focus on investment, in view of cohesion policy programming for 2021 – 2027. Priorities put forward by the Commission include investing in social and affordable housing, as well as in relevant social and health services. FEANTSA strongly welcomes the fact that housing and homelessness have come onto the Commission’s radar. We call on the incoming College of Commissioners to build on this and go further in monitoring and promoting rights-based strategies to tackle homelessness and housing exclusion. Now is the time for decisive efforts to understand and address Europe’s growing housing problems.