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Commission confirms that NAMA could be repurposed for social housing – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today (Wednesday) said that the European Commissioner for Competition Policy, Margrethe Vestager, has signalled that repurposing NAMA to deliver social housing is possible in the context of EU state aid rules. Ms. Vestager recently sent a letter to Mr. Hayes in relation to the issue of NAMA being used for social housing purposes.

“Commissioner Vestager has effectively given a positive signal that NAMA can be repurposed to deliver social housing without breaching state aid rules. This is good news for Ireland and good news for our housing needs.

“The key benchmark is the Commission’s Decision from 2012 relating to state aid rules in the context of services for general economic interest. We must make sure that any move to repurpose NAMA satisfies all the criteria outlined in this decision. The rules are not over-complicated; they focus on things like transparency, regular reporting and ensuring that any form of aid provided to an agency does not excessively affect competition in the housing sector.

“Clearly the provision of social housing is of vital national interest and there should be scope for state agencies to use their remit to deliver on the social housing front. The important thing is that the market does not become distorted through government intervention.

“The government should push forward with this initiative – the key goal is to get NAMA to deliver on the housing front where the private sector has failed. Increasing housing supply must be the number one priority in our housing strategy.

“Given that NAMA’s establishment in 2010 has to be approved by the Commission under state aid rules, we do need to get more clarity from the Commission about what is feasible in the repurposing of NAMA. More broadly, it is a question that many actors all over the EU will have about how much government intervention there can be when it comes to social housing and compliance with state aid rules.”

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