Proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 on the European Regional Development Fund as regards the eligibility of housing interventions in favour of marginalised communities
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The proposal aims to permit the ERDF financial support for housing interventions in favour of marginalised communities living in the Member States that acceded to the European Union on or after 1 May 2004. In the new Member States, the great majority of these communities live in rural areas and in shelters (in rural as well as in urban areas) and they cannot benefit from the ERDF support. In fact, Article 7(2) of the ERDF Regulation provides for the eligibility of expenditure on housing in the new Member States. The experience to-date however, proves that the conditions of eligibility do not fully fit to the needs on the ground. Actually, under the current ERDF provisions, housing interventions can take place in the framework of urban development operations and in the form of renovation of existing houses. Therefore, support to housing interventions in rural areas or for the replacement of “houses” of a very poor quality in urban or rural areas cannot be eligible under the ERDF. There is a growing concern and commitment of the EU to combat social exclusion, including the particular situation of Roma. The European Parliament and the Council have repeatedly asked the Commission to take action to promote inclusion of these communities facing extreme deprivation and marginalisation. The Commission has taken the commitment to propose - in the framework of the Structural Funds - measures to improve the living conditions of these communities. The present proposal for an amendment of the ERDF Regulation translates this commitment. Moreover, for simplification purposes, this proposal contains minor drafting modifications of the current Article 7(2) of the ERDF Regulation relating to the framework in which a housing intervention in urban areas shall take place without however modifying the existing eligibility rules in favour of EU-12 In particular: i) Article 7(2) of the ERDF Regulation confers the Commission implementing powers for the definition of the criteria for the selection of areas and of the list of eligible housing interventions. The Commission exercised its powers in Article 47 of Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006. However, given the great diversity of housing situation on the ground, it has been proved that the criteria fixed by the Commission are not appropriate. Therefore, they are currently simplified. In order to take on board the simplification of Article 47 of Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 currently in process it is proposed to provide that the implementing powers conferred to the Commission will be optional and not binding. ii) For clarity purposes, the eligible types of interventions in the existing buildings (the renovation of the common parts of residential buildings, the renovation and change of use of public owned buildings in order to transform them into “social housing”) should be included in the proposed Regulation. iii) Finally, the current wording of Article 7(2) of the ERDF Regulation, expenditure shall be programmed “within the framework of an integrated urban development operation or priority axis” for areas experiencing or threatened by physical deterioration and social exclusion” needs to be improved. Therefore, it is proposed to replace the terms “operation” and “priority axis” by the term “integrated approach”, which ensures that a housing intervention is part of a broader intervention including aspects relating to housing such as social services, public spaces, culture, education, transport infrastructure, economic activities of the area etc regardless of the source of financing.