How the European Commission Affected Social Rental Housing in the Netherlands and Germany

Authored by: Marja G. Elsinga , Marietta E.A. Haffner

The Routledge Handbook of Housing Policy and Planning

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138188433
eBook ISBN: 9781315642338
Adobe ISBN:


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In the Netherlands and Germany, social housing used to be a key element of the welfare state and urban planning, despite many differences in the way these two countries provided affordable housing. However, social housing and its role in welfare and urban issues have been changing. This chapter focuses on the changes in social housing initiated by policies of the European Commission (EC), the executive body of the European Union (EU), which unites 28 European countries. While the EU does not have the responsibility for housing policy, it nevertheless has influenced national housing markets by promoting competition between social and private landlords and developers in providing rental housing to residents. This chapter discusses how the EU legislation on creating fair competition between different types of rental housing providers can differentially impact rental housing policies, with the Netherlands and Germany as examples. The policies had a far greater impact on Dutch as compared to German social housing provision. We argue for a reexamination of the role of the EC, vis-à-vis the different national governments, in addressing growing housing affordability problems.

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