New study “Housing Policies in (the) Crisis: The Troika Memorandum and the Housing Market in Portugal”

In 2011, the Portuguese Government, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank formally signed the document ‘Portugal: Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality’, which defined the conditions for the 78 billion euro loan granted by these three bodies – the Troika – to the Portuguese State. The Memorandum and its periodic Reviews deepened the cuts planned in public expenditure, with a view to balancing the government accounts, in a political, social and economic climate that was commonly called austerity. One of the eight sectors of the Memorandum was dedicated exclusively to the Portuguese ‘Housing market’.

A new study written by Gonçalo Antunes and published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Portugal analyses the impact of that sector on the housing situation in Portuguese metropolitan areas.

After giving an overview of the housing policy trends until the signing of the Memorandum, the study discusses in detail the measures in the Memorandum, coming to the conclusion that they contributed to the intensification of a non-interventionist and neoliberal model of housing policies and the deregulation of the housing market. The Memorandum fostered dynamics that furthered the fragmentation of the Portuguese metropolitan areas, which, from the spatial, social and economic point of view, are increasingly more unequal and less cohesive.

The paper also discusses the mitigating measures the Socialist Government took from 2017 on, aimed at attenuating the imbalances that the intervention period had produced, especially with respect to the rental market and the need to strengthen the security and stability of urban renting.