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Parliamentary questions
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29 September 2017
E-005016/2017(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Moscovici on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-005016/2017

The economic and financial crisis clearly demonstrated the severe social, as well as macroeconomic, consequences of allowing imbalances to emerge in the residential property market. In the context of the European Semester the Commission monitors the evolution of prices, the housing cost overburden, and the supply and demand for housing in concerned Member States, namely in Ireland.

The 2017 Country Report on Ireland considers these issues in detail(1). The residential property market also received considerable attention in the most recent Post-Programme Surveillance Report(2). Notably, the latter report found that on top of brisk economic growth, demand side policies, such as the Help-to-Buy scheme for first-time buyers, may have exacerbated recent price trends, yet the fundamental issue remains insufficient housing supply. Completions of new residential housing units increased in 2016 but the supply of homes remains well below estimated demand fundamentals.

The government has repeatedly and actively intervened in the residential property market but it will still take time to deliver an adequate supply of new homes. Some building requirements still present a barrier to the construction of apartments, while the new National Planning Framework could facilitate a more stable housing market by enabling a coherent spatial distribution of housing and supporting infrastructure. Current price developments are not being driven by credit.

Ultimately, the only durable solution to affordability and the scarcity of housing is to build an adequate supply. As proposed by the Commission, the Council therefore recommended that Ireland prioritise public investment in infrastructure, in particular transport, water services and housing as part of the 2017 European Semester.

(1)https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2017-european-semester-country-report-ireland-en.pdf
(2)https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/economy-finance/post-programme-surveillance-report-ireland-spring-2017_en.

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