Future of the EU’s social policies and funding: Joint letter from Eurodiaconia, the Salvation Army EU, and FEANTSA
Dear Ms. Thyssen,
Dear Mr. Oettinger,
As European organisations working with homeless people in the European Union and beyond, we want to share some opinions and proposals on the future of the European Union’s social policies and funding. Our member organizations work daily with thousands of people facing one of the most extreme forms of poverty in Europe, homelessness. They witness a drastic increase of homelessness. This observation is backed by official statistics showing an alarming rise in homelessness.
Our three organisations have been advocating for brave political action to work to end homelessness by 2030, and in this perspective we strongly welcome the European Union’s recent political commitments to address homelessness, in particular:
- The European interinstitutional proclamationendorsing the European Pillar of Social Rights on 17th November 2017, and its principle 19 on housing and assistance for the homeless, stating that ‘Vulnerable people have the right to appropriate assistance and protection against forced eviction’’.
- The Annual Growth Survey 2018’s clear demand for Member States to tackle homelessness, underlying the need to protect “vulnerable people against unjustified forced eviction and foreclosures, as well as tackling homelessness”.
- The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, whereby the European Union and Member States have committed to end extreme poverty and to “leave no one behind”. SDG1 on ending poverty & SDG11 on sustainable cities and communities in particular will require ambitious action on homelessness.
We believe that priority 19 of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the strong wording of the Annual Growth Survey 2018, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, demonstrate a genuine political commitment and a framework for investment of energy and resources in the fight against homelessness in Europe.
We are keen to help take this forward concretely, alongside the European institutions and the Member States. One example of this commitment is FEANTSA’s campaign “Be Fair, Europe – Stand Up for Homeless People” which calls on EU policymakers to work with national governments, regions, cities and stakeholders to put an end to homelessness by:
- Making more effective use of existing policy instruments
- Supporting homeless people in all relevant sectoral areas
- Monitoring homelessness and benchmarking progress at Member State level
- Defending the rights of homeless people
- Investing EU funds in ending homelessness
We ask for you to support us in working for the implementation of these political priorities, in particular in the context of the implementation of the European Pilar of Social Rights and the design of the new Multiannual Financial Framework. Indeed, one of the European Union’s main tools to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Multiannual Financial Framework post 2020, is currently under discussion and is a key opportunity to turn the EU’s recent political commitments on homelessness into real action. These discussions must take into account the essential need to invest in social inclusion and support to those living in the most deprived situations, notably homeless people. We know from the current period that EU funding can be a critical lever for better progress on tackling homelessness in Member States. Good practices exist across Europe, especially when it comes to the Fund for European aid to the most deprived and the European Social Fund. There is however no space for complacency and much scope to do better, building on learning from this period.
In a context of downward pressure on resources, competing priorities, simplification, a drive for flexibility and the merging of instruments, there is a risk that homeless people will be left behind in the post 2020 Multiannual Financial Framework. The European Union must take measures to ensure that the future financial instruments designed to support solidarity and cohesion reach the most deprived, notably homeless people, and make a genuine difference to their situation (this should include homeless EU mobile citizens as well as undocumented migrants who are particularly vulnerable to becoming destitute and are often unable to access their social and human rights of shelter and basic care). We would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how this can be achieved.
We are committed to continuing our constructive engagement in this debate and would welcome the opportunity to meet you or your colleagues in the New Year to discuss how to take forward this commitment to address homelessness.
We thank you the attention you will be giving to this letter, and in doing so, for the consideration you are giving to our members’ work and experience. We remain at your disposal for any further information on our work.
Ms. Heather Roy
Rue Joseph II, 166
Mr. Mike Stannett
Officer for EU Affairs The Salvation Army
EU Affairs Office
34, Pl du Nv Marché aux Grains
Mr. Freek Spinnewijn
Chaussée de Louvain 194,
 FEANTSA’s annual Overview of Housing Exclusion & Homelessness report http://www.feantsa.org/en/report/2017/03/21/the-second-overview-of-housing-exclusion-in-europe-2017
 Homelessness prevention programme: http://www.salvationarmy.eu/euaffairs/Goodpractice
 See for instance ‘Frostschutzengel’ project helping homeless people in Berlin, financed in part through the FEAD https://www.eurodiaconia.org/2017/11/frostschutzengel-project-helps-homeless-people-in-berlin-this-winter/