Housing organisers from across Europe are coming together this weekend to protest against the adoption of the EU Urban Agenda by the 23 Housing Ministers of Europe in Amsterdam. Three protests and an alternative conference are planned by the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City, a network of groups fighting for housing justice across the continent.
On Monday at 9.45am CET a visually compelling demonstration will be held as the European ministers for Urban Development arrive by boat to their meeting at the National Maritime Museum (1). A press conference will be held at 10am with speakers from a number of countries severely affected by both EU austerity policies, and by urban regeneration projects conducted using European structural funds. Campaigners are calling for such funds to be used to build social housing, rather than to displace the urban poor through partnership with private developers.
On Monday at 1pm CET the headquarters of Stadgenoot, a major Dutch housing corporation, will be visited with local partners the Bond Precaire Woonvormen (The Union of the Precariously Housed). Stadgenoot has been instrumental in lobbying for the new Dutch housing law that reduces tenancies to between 2 and 5 years, and destroying tenant protections . Similar ‘flexibilisation’ laws are in train in many countries across Europe, such as the UK’s Housing and Planning Act. Several housing groups and renters will participate in this public solidarity action. Together they will reclaim this public institution and open the dialogue on the privatisation, flexibilisation and the sale of Dutch public housing in the European context.
The EU Urban Agenda has been developed since 1997 by the European Commission and the European Council in order to “remove unnecessary regulation” and “create more workable financial instruments”. The Pact of Amsterdam is being signed during the Dutch Presidency to streamline urban cooperation, without attempting to confront the privatisation occurring across the EU.
Rita Silva, a Portuguese organiser with Habita! said “The Urban Agenda is overflowing with buzzwords on sustainability and innovation, but the hidden agenda is to create profitable cities for private capital. There is a choice – the money could be used to house poor communities who are being forced out of their cities – but instead the EU is becoming a driver in gentrification in many places in Europe. We demand access to affordable public housing all over Europe. Housing is right not a privilege! We invite everybody to join us.
Notes for the Press
Contact : Rita Silva, Jacob Wills
Telephone : 00351916419605, 00447954341365
For Dutch Speakers
Contact: Abel Heijkamp