By rights, in the Europe of today, there should be no place for this meeting about homelessness.
The latter should be an alien concept, one that refers to the state of affairs in some planet that lies well outside the European space.
The reality is different.
Homelessness is a serious problem in Europe, which is supposedly one of the richest, socially most advanced regions of the globe.
Worse, as a problem, it is growing.
Not just because of the phenomenon of irregular migration and the arrival in Europe of refugees in huge numbers, but also because of an increasing number of those EU nationals who choose to move to another EU country with the goal of achieving a better life but fail.
Though these developments will have sharpened the problem, homelessness antedates them.
It also antedates the 2008 financial crisis and the austerity policies that it gave birth to.
They just served to deepen the problem.
The real challenge is to understand how and why the European society we are trying to manage allows for homelessness.
We are encouraged to think about it as a marginal issue, as a crisis created by dropouts for dropouts.
The reality is that homelessness is far from being a marginal problem.
It is far from being a condition determined by a propensity to failure on the part of the few.
It could affect us all, given the kind of rules by which increasingly our societies are run.
The social market economy is being … has been… transformed into an input-output machine, run according to positivist measures. And so has the EU of humanity, the EU of social rights, which many have looked up to throughout the years.
Under its rules, social considerations of equity and fair play lose out if economic criteria are being breached.
Top of the lot in this game come the so-called rules by which labour market flexibility is touted as the game changer in a scenario where Europe is supposedly losing… or has already lost… its competitive edge.
As a result of this, huge numbers of young people find themselves locked in precarious employment. Those moving from one EU Member State to another unfortunately find themselves more vulnerable to this social condition.
They are left with little scope for the establishment of new secure families housed in secure accommodation.
Some will say that this has no relation to the problems of those who are experiencing out and out homelessness.
I think it may be part of the same syndrome…
… the less brutal part, but nonetheless equally symptomatic of the more brutish world that we strive to make more competitive and “efficient”.
I doubt that we can be effective in the fight against homelessness if we regard it as accidental and not systemic.
Homelessness needs systemic and not partial solutions.
For this, there is limited political appetite.
Indeed, the difficulty is that we must overcome a huge temptation to classify homelessness as a marginal problem. Out if this marginal problem, we are again ignoring the minority of those who end up homeless following their failed attempt of a better life in another EU country.
However, it could really be rooted in the present organization of today’s European societies and of an EU that in many aspects seemed content with half-baked integration rules which well appease the top strata of our society.
For this reason, even if I will not be physically present for most of this forum’s debates because of other commitments, I will make sure to keep abreast of what will be said and proposed during the activity.
There will be follow-ups needed to keep the issue of homelessness as a result of EU mobility in focus.
Myself and my office will be more than available to help ensure that this objective is attained.

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