Resisting Evictions Across Europe
As this timely report makes depressingly clear, the forcible eviction of people from their homes – whether rented, owned or occupied – is on the rise in Europe.
In some respects, Europe has arrived late to the global eviction party that each year sees millions of people displaced from housing across the world. Over the course of the twentieth century, the various national housing crises afflicting Europe's industrial working classes were gradually tamed through state intervention as part of the broader Keynesian deal that put Western capitalism on a more social democratic course.
Private landowners' right to extract monopoly rents from the propertyless masses was tempered by the creation of a popular right to decent housing – and to the city more generally – through the partial decommodification of shelter. But now, social democracy is all but dead after forty years of neoliberal policies that have seen European societies and especially their cities radically restructured and re-regulated along free market lines in the interests of global financial speculation and elite consumption.
As always, however, people are fighting back in innovative and heroic ways that point us in the direction of effective resistance that can also generate alternative housing models and social relations based on solidarity, dignity and need - and not profit. The rise of urban dispossession in Europe, however powerful, is resistible when people unite across borders.
This text has been written by members of the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City.