Universal access to housing that is decent, sustainable and affordable over the long term

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EESC opinion: Universal access to housing that is decent, sustainable and affordable over the long term

Practical Information

Composition of the Study Group

Administrator: Ágota BAZSIK, Assistant: Dániel Makay

Foreseen for the TEN Section meeting:  25 May 2020

Foreseen for the EESC Plenary session:  10-11 June 2020


In many Member States, all the evidence points to a housing crisis. Soaring property prices are undeniably a factor in growing inequality and social exclusion.

For many EU citizens, housing is now the biggest household expense, to the detriment of other basic needs. A household that has to spend more than 33% of its disposable income on housing is deemed to be exposed to excessive housing costs and to be at great risk of over-indebtedness and/or exclusion.

Excessive housing costs are no longer affecting only the most disadvantaged members of society, but also households whose income is too high to qualify for social housing but too low to be able to rent or buy suitable housing on the private market.

Consequently, the purpose of housing policy must not be restricted to assisting vulnerable individuals but must ensure decent and affordable housing for everyone.

When there is a clear disparity between property market prices and the wages or disposable income of many households, it is called a housing bubble. Some economists dismiss the possibility of such a bubble bursting at this time because, although they acknowledge that household debt is steadily rising, they also believe that European banks are strong and know that the default rates on mortgage repayments remain low. However, it must not be forgotten that, since 2007, there has been a substantial decrease in interest rates on mortgages and that an increase in the variable rate, which cannot be ruled out in the future, would cause difficulties for many borrowers and banks.

It is up to the EESC to make specific proposals for implementing the 19th principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which stipulates that "access to social housing or housing assistance of good quality shall be provided for those in need".