Although housing and housing rights as such are not formally a European Union competence, there are still several tools at EU level which relate in one way or another to the right to housing. These include the:
- EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
- Treaty of the EU
- Anti-discrimination legislation
- EU Agency for Fundamental Rights
EU CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Article 34 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, is devoted to social security and social assistance. Paragraph 3 reads:
3. In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with the rules laid down by Community law and national laws and practices.
The ECJ was given the opportunity to rule on this article for the first and only time in the Kamberaj case. It held that housing allowance could not be reduced in a discriminatory way for non-EU nationals.
TREATY OF THE EU
The Treaty of the European Union is an international treaty between the European Union (EU) member states which sets out the EU's constitutional basis. It established the various EU institutions together with their remit, procedures and objectives. The EU can only act within the competences granted to it through this treaty and amendment to the treaty requires the agreement and ratification (according to their national procedures) of every single signatory.
As far as fundamental rights are concerned, Article 6 of the Treaty of the European Union states that:
1. The Union is founded on the principle of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States.
2. The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law.
3. The Union shall respect the national identities of its Member States.
Since its creation, the European Union (EU) has regarded the fight against discrimination as one of its most pressing missions. Although discrimination, whether direct or indirect, is considered a crime under European law, individuals throughout Europe are prevented on a daily basis from living their social or professional life to the full because of random criteria. For several years the emphasis was placed on preventing discrimination on grounds of nationality or gender. Since 1999, the EU's powers have expanded to include action against discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. In this area more than any other, civil society organisations act as essential intermediaries between citizens and the European institutions.
You may find a list of all EU anti-discrimination legislation and activities by clicking here.
EU AGENCY FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is a body of the European Union established in 2007, which builds on the former European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). The objective of the FRA is to provide the relevant institutions and authorities of the Community and its Member States when implementing Community law with assistance and expertise relating to fundamental rights. The FRA cooperates with national and international bodies and organisations, in particular with the Council of Europe. It also works closely with civil society organisations.
The role of the European Courtof Justice in developing Housing Rights
- How does the preliminary ruling work?