European Commissioner Vestager: 'social cohesion acceptable as social housing objectives'

  • Sebastien Garnier profile
    Sebastien Garnier
    12 June 2017 - updated 5 months ago
    Total votes: 2

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'Social mixity and social cohesion are also acceptable public policy objectives for which State aid may be granted under the 2012 SGEI Decision.'

This is what European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager replied to the European Parliament, following questions from the Dutch Member of the Parlement Agnes Jongerius (S&D/PvdA).

Since the European Commission's decision regarding the Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) in the Dutch social housing system in 2009, new requirements for the tasks of Dutch housing corporations, including a stricter national income limit for the allocation of social housing were applied.

Only for "disadvantaged citizens"?

This was based on the European Commission's definition that social housing as an SGEI is only allowed for "disadvantaged citizens or socially less advantaged groups who due to solvency constraints are unable to obtain housing at market conditions."

Vestager's latest statement appears to acknowledge that SGEI does not necessarily have to be defined only on the basis of income limits, but that efforts to create or safeguard mixed neighborhoods may also play a role if this is deemed to be of general interest.

She confirms that Member States have a lot of room to define social housing as SGEI. She acknowledges that "the scope and organization of SGEI's differ significantly from one Member State to another, depending on the history, the culture of public intervention and the economic and social conditions prevailing in each Member State."

Review SGEI Decision

In the SGEI Decision which includes the ambiguous social housing definition, the European Commission included January 2017 as the revision date - fiver years after coming into force. To get more clarity about the confusing and tight definition, Jongerius asked Vestager when the review is to take place. There, Vestager did not make any statements.

June 2017

Sebastien Garnier

European Affairs at Aedes - Dutch federation for social housing