EU focus: renovating homes

The members of the European Housing Forum urge EU Ministers to focus on the renovation of the existing housing stock as a means to raise Europe's living standards, create employment and ensure quality, decent and affordable homes for all…

The twelve international organisations that integrate the European Housing Forum are convinced that addressing the renovation of existing homes within the EU should be, more than ever, a policy priority for the 27 EU Members States, as Governments are responsible to ensure citizens live in adequate homes whose maintenance and energy bills are affordable.

In the current financial instability and with the increasing cost of credit, many housing providers and homeowners have serious difficulties to rehabilitate existing homes and adapt them to the needs derived from demographic changes, such as ageing and immigration, or to meet the agreed energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets in 2020.

For this reason, the European Housing Forum wants to encourage policy-makers at local and national level to adopt appropriate policies focused on changing consumer behaviour through political leadership, especially at the local level and effective measures such as financial incentives for homeowners, tenants and landlords, cheaper long-term finance and other innovative financial tools.

At European level, the forum pleads for the inclusion of housing as a priority in the second EU energy efficiency action plan; and, the inclusion of housing for excluded segments of the population and urban development in the post-2013 European Cohesion Funds.

Spokesman Ian Perry FRICS , Co-chair European Housing Forum, said:

"The Spanish presidency could not have chosen a better topic for the informal meeting of EU Housing Ministers. The focus on the renovation of the existing housing stock tackles several key challenges that are facing governments today.

"First, it addresses the economic crisis as renovation means job creation. It has been estimated that around 1 full time job is created each time 4 dwellings are renovated.

"Second, it addresses the climate challenge as renovating homes means less energy used, and less CO2 emitted.

"Finally, although this is not an exhaustive list, it is a necessary step in reducing energy poverty of home owners and tenants alike. EU statistics show that 79 million people in the EU, or 16% of the population, are currently at risk of poverty. This number is only likely to increase, as are fossil fuel prices."