On the last weekend of May, the housing ministers of all EU countries are meeting in Amsterdam to start work on the first EU Urban Agenda, linked to the UN Habitat 3 mega-conference. This agenda will be lead by the neo-liberal politics of those who create it, and proposes to techno-fix our cities for their benefit, with “e;Smart Infrastructure”e;, and “e;better data monitoring”e;. These false solutions do nothing to curb the wholesale privatisation of our cities and our housing that is taking place across the continent.
In the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City, we have decided to begin denouncing and organising against the EU”e;s role in developing the housing crisis. As a grassroots coalition across the continent, we will be supporting our Dutch members, the Bond Precaire Woonvormen, in taking action, as well as joining an action with other allies in Amsterdam. Come and join us over the last weekend in May to help build a European housing movement. Get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss logistics – our resources are limited but we want to support participation as far as possible.
In targeting an international institution, we are building true internationalism from below, while disavowing any nationalistic and xenophobic critiques of the EU. But what has the EU got to do with housing?
The EU has had a direct impact on housing conditions, as it promotes privatization and the deregulation of finance, housing and all kind of public services. This market competition paradigm undermines all EU regulations. The EU openly forced the liberalization of rental marketin Southern Europe and the broadening of the mortgage market in both southern and eastern European countries, and forced the sale of public housing in other member states, while austerity reduces the money available for social services and housing through national and local budgets. At the same time, urban regeneration programs in southern and eastern European cities, enabled through EU structural funds, are meant to raise property prices and so expel the working classes from urban centres to the fringes. The liberal solution to a lack of housing is Public Private Partnerships – the continuation of profit-driven intervention which denies people”e;s right to the city and to good affordable housing. And who are these solutions for, with the EU responsible for the permanent violation of the right to housing of migrants and refugees?
Movements from the Netherlands are organising a protest that denounces this politics and links it with the problems faced since the privatisation of Dutch housing corporations in 1993. For twenty years these corporations are increasingly forced to operate as profit-motivated companies; then in 2010 the EU demanded that the Dutch government restrict access to social housing to households with incomes below 33,000 euros, in order to stimulate the creation of an investors market. As a result, from the early 90’s until now, public housing and security of tenure have both decreased. Housing corporations and private landlords are mainstreaming the use of temporary 2 and 5 year contracts, which allow landlords to evict people with short notice, and without any obligation to relocate them. These tactics are being used all over Europe to prevent the potential for building long-term community power, and while we still hold some of this power, we must fight to defend it!
Our target will be announced on May 15rd on www.housingnotprofit.org.
Local and national organisations from many countries are going to join the protest and denounce the politics that tries to deny the right to housing and to the city across Europe.
There are limited accommodation spaces available from Friday 27th-Monday 30th. The ideal is for people to travel on the evening of Friday 27th ready for a bike demo on Saturday at 13-16 Sunday May 29th will be both an alternative conference at Paradiso and action planning for Monday. On Monday 30th we will be occupying a key target with responsibility for mass evictions and the weakening of tenants”e; rights, and denouncing the doublespeak of the EU Urban Agenda.