The immediate and long-term challenges of housing the 7.3 million Ukrainian
refugees registered in the EU's cities and regions was the subject of
debate on 29 September at a meeting of the CoR's Commission for Territorial
Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER). The long-term challenges were
particularly emphasised by Jan Fluxa, the deputy minister for regional
development of the Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating
presidency of the Council of the European Union. Many of the refugees will
stay "for longer, if not forever" and there is a need to ease their move
from "immediate but short-term" housing solutions – which, Deputy Minister
Fluxa said, had created a "very unpredictable situation" – to "standard
Issues touched on included the EU's ongoing reliance on households to host
Ukrainian refugees, fears that the soaring prices of energy will make it
more difficult to maintain this level of voluntary support over the winter,
difficulties finding apartments on the market, the importance of
subsidising the renovation of unused housing stocks in order to find homes
for refugees, and whether to ringfence social housing in order to ensure
that pre-existing housing needs are unaffected.
(PL/EPP), Mayor of Warsaw, stressed that the population in Warsaw has
increased by 12% due to the refugee crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
Most refugees are living in the homes or second homes of Polish citizens,
who will struggle to provide adequate housing for Ukrainians in winter due
to increasing energy prices. "
Financial support is urgently needed in order to provide refugees, and
especially the ones with special needs, with suitable and safe housing.
There has been no strategy on housing for refugees in the EU and most
burdens have been shifted to local and regional authorities. The access
to funds should hence directly be channelled to regions and cities
(DE/PES), Member of the Berlin House of Representatives, highlighted that
the availability of rental flats and houses in Berlin was already very
scarce and difficult before the European refugee crisis and this has
worsened with the large number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in the
capital. She made clear that Berlin wants to ensure safe housing and thus a
secure basis for all Ukrainian refugees, especially women and children, but
with only 600 vacant flats, the situation urgently needs to be improved
through financial support.
(EE/Renew), Member of Rakvere City Council, underlined: "
In our small region we only have 15,000 inhabitants. With the ongoing
refugee crisis, housing prices are rising rapidly. Providing all
Ukrainians with safe and sustainable housing on the long term will help
them to overcome the approaching winter and to focus on finding jobs
and schools for their children.
The Czech government has made housing an important item on the agenda of
its Council presidency and has asked for input from local and regional
administrations ahead of a 8-9 November meeting focused on housing that it
has organised. Along with Poland and Germany, the Czech Republic has taken
in the largest number of Ukrainian refugees. Deputy Minster Fluxa said that
one in 15 current residents in Prague is a refugee from the conflict in
COTER members also adopted a
calling for enhanced cohesion policy support for territories with
geographic and demographic handicaps, including rural areas, island,
cross-border and mountain regions. New EU strategies, such as the
Long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas
, must set out clearly defined proposals for these areas to ensure balanced
development and a fair recovery across all European regions.
(FR/EA), President of the Assembly of Corsica and rapporteur on this
“The application of the European treaties, which should ensure
territorial cohesion also for remote territories as well as the ones
suffering permanent handicaps, is not satisfactory. Very often, the
needs of these regions are taken into account at the final stage of the
policy-making process, rather than at the outset. Moreover, many EU
funds with a territorial dimension are mostly programmed in isolation.
What we need is a truly integrated approach to all these interventions
and "geographic" targeted measures with specific budget allocation.”
During the meeting, the COTER commission elected
as its new chair. Mr Boc is Mayor of Cluj-Napoca Municipality of Cluj
County in Romania and has been a member of the CoR since 2019. He was Prime
Minister of Romania in 2008-12. He
will chair the COTER commission's work during the next two and a half
years. More information
Commenting on his election, he said: "
As COTER chair, one of my biggest priorities is to make sure that we
will have an efficient sustainable and qualitative implementation of
the current cohesion programmes and a strong cohesion policy in the
I want to ensure that our work as COTER and institution has a real
impact in our territories, and that no region is left behind, no matter
the size, demographic or geographic challenges.
Members also held a general exploratory debate on the opinion on "
Just and Sustainable Transition in the context of the coal and
energy intensive regions
, by rapporteur-general
(FI/EPP), and COTER members had an exchange of views on the opinion on "
Communication on putting people first, securing sustainable and
inclusive growth, unlocking the potential of the EU’s outermost
, by rapporteur
Pedro Chaves De Faria e Castro