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STRUCTURAL FUNDS : ERDF SUPPORT FOR HOUSING A SUCCESS IN FRANCE.

The track record for housing renovation in France financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is very positive. This is the message put out by the Union sociale pour l'habitat (USH), which campaigned for the measure, as the European Commission gives thought to the priorities of the future EU budget. In a report transmitted on 18 May to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, USH calculates that this measure, adopted in 2009, has generated more than 1 billion in investments in subsidised housing in France. It calls for the initiative to be renewed and strengthened after 2013. The member state representatives who sit in the Structural Fund Coordination Committee had already heard the USH's assessment last Mach.

The possibility of using Structural Fund interventions for investments in housing was proposed by the Commission in late 2008 as part of the EU's economic recovery plan. Until then, the possibility existed only in the new' member states. A change in ERDF rules (Regulation 1080/2006) in 2009 made it possible to co-finance in all member states energy efficiency investments in the amount of 4% at most of the total ERDF allocation to each state.

In the context of the mid-term review, the USH is more than pleased with the measure and proposes to the Commission president to abolish the 4% limit "so as to unleash its growth potential". "In less than 22 months, your proposal has generated in France more than 1 billion in energy-efficiency investments in social housing and helped to create and maintain 15,000 local jobs. Some 50,000 low-income households will benefit concretely from your measure through a sizeable cut in their heating bills," the association's President, Thierry Repentin, writes to Barroso. He also suggests the creation of a specific EU fund four energy performance in housing.

LEVERAGE ROLE

The report transmitted to the Commission shows that the French regions have massively altered their operational programmes to benefit from the measure. Some 97% of the available budget has already been allocated and many regions have already reached the 4% ceiling. ERDF-supported projects, as of 1 March 2011, represented a total investment of 1.013 billion, or seven times the ERDF money committed. "The ERDF has fully played its role of leveraging co-financing," states the report.

The decrease in the heating costs of beneficiary households is estimated at 40%, ie a yearly purchasing power gain of 360 to 1,000 per household. Applied to 50,000 households, the purchasing power gain can be estimated at between 18 million and 54 million a year, reads the report. "The ERDF and national co-financing are thus helping to step up the conversion to a low-carbon economy while making Europe less dependent on energy imports and keeping energy bills under control for low-income households."

In short, the measure has proved its worth in France. Although it has met with less success in other member states, Union sociale pour l'habitat finds that this was because it was adopted once the programming period had already begun, at a time when national programmes were already being implemented. The USH maintains that the measure should be renewed for the full 2013-2020 programme period, from its start, on 1 January 2013. "Having been tried and tested, it should no longer have a ceiling. The measure would thus be better able to meet the real needs of member states and regions in the area of energy performance of social housing."

The report (in French) is available at www.europolitics.info > Search = 294041
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Publication:Europe Environment
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jun 2, 2011
Words:583
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