Ekonomikas ministrijas pārstāvju delegācija

On 4-5 March, ministers responsible for housing policy, senior officials, stakeholders and public organisations from the EU Member States are meeting in Liege, Belgium, for an informal conference of the European Union (EU) Housing Ministerial Council to discuss solutions to housing affordability and sustainability issues. Latvia is represented at the meeting by Edmunds Valantis, State Secretary at the Ministry of the Economy. On behalf of Latvia, Mr Valantis signed the Belgian Presidency of the European Union's Liège Ministerial Declaration on Affordable Sustainable Housing for All.

Affordable housing is a growing challenge across the European Union, the importance of which has been exacerbated in recent years by the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia's full-scale aggression against Ukraine and global trends. While there is no single set of indicators to measure housing affordability, a number of trends point to a growing shortage of affordable housing in the EU. For its part, the European Commission has repeatedly underlined that housing affordability is a growing problem in the EU. The European Parliament has also actively addressed this issue by adopting a resolution on 'Access to decent and affordable housing for all'.

The conference focused on successful policies and actions to promote access to modern housing for all, financing mechanisms for affordable housing and the renewal of social housing stock and adaptation to climate change.

During the conference, Mr Valantis stressed that "Promoting affordable housing, including housing renewal, is a highly financially intensive endeavour that requires much higher levels of investment. Not only is it essential to continue to ensure EU funds' investment in housing instruments, but it is also necessary to ensure access to low-interest, long-term EU loans, which is critical to ensure the return on investment."

While housing policy is a matter for the Member States of the European Union, the Declaration foresees that the European Commission, in cooperation with the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Committee of the Regions, organises an annual EU Summit on Social and Affordable Housing, bringing together all stakeholders involved in national activities in the field of social and affordable housing.

The European Commission will also develop an EU platform where Member States can share best practices to increase the supply of affordable and social housing, promote housing renovation and exchange useful data; encourage Member States to build long-term national, regional and local partnerships between housing providers, social services and local authorities to address existing support needs; bring together information on European financial instruments to promote affordable housing as well as relevant training materials for social service providers, local authorities and other actors in the social and affordable housing sector.

At the same time, the European Commission will strengthen support to national, regional and local policies in the housing sector by facilitating access to information on access to support from European instruments and by strengthening impact assessments of the impact of EU policies on affordable housing. For its part, the European Investment Bank has committed in this declaration to strengthening financial solutions for the affordable and social housing sector.

During the Ministerial Conference in Liege, Mr Valantis, State Secretary of the Ministry of the Economy, and Ms Baiba Miltovič, President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Specialised Section on Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society, agreed to strengthen cooperation in the future, both in the development of Latvian housing policy and in the framework of EU initiatives. Valantis says: "Affordable housing is not only a problem for the low-income population, but at the same time we need to take a holistic view of housing sustainability and policy adaptation to meet climate goals. This is why the EM is developing national support measures for different groups".

"The Housing Ministerial Conference in Liege clearly demonstrates the presence of a housing crisis in the Member States of the European Union. Issues such as the inadequacy of European incomes to meet housing costs, the high cost of housing, the sharp rise in interest rates on loans across the euro area, and the affordability of housing and social housing in general, are all pressing issues at the moment. The EESC will continue to raise the issue of affordable housing by consulting civil society organisations, listening to citizens' concerns and practical recommendations," said Baiba Miltovic after the conference.

In 2022, the Ministry of the Economy, in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee, organised a conference on "Affordable housing in the EU today". In order to prepare proposals for this year's Ministerial Conference in Liege, the European Economic and Social Committee organised a conference in Belgium in February on "The housing crisis in Europe - the way forward?". The conclusions of both conferences are integrated in the "Ministerial Declaration on Housing in Liege" of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union.

EM valsts sekretāra E.Valanta dalība ES mājokļu ministru padomes konferencē