Test case in France finds new EU laws permit homeless citizens to sue state for failure to provide housing. (Report on France2 Television News, 22-5-08)
The administrative tribunal of Paris has found in favour of a family in sub-standard housing, whose application to the regional authorities (la prefecture) for better housing had been rejected.
Minister for Housing, Christine Boutin, commented that this legal decision demonstrated that the relevant new laws of 5 March 2007 were working.
"This is evidence that the law works, despite criticism that the right to sue for housing would turn out to be too complicated," she said on France2 television.
Calling the matter urgent, in an interim administrative tribunal the judge in chambers put aside an unfavourable decision made on 3 March by the Paris Mediation Commission, which had refused to consider a request for accommodation which had been made by a single woman who was raising two children alone.
This means that Namizata Fofana will be able to put her case again before the Mediation Commission.
If the Commission agrees that she has a case, the regional authorities (le prefet) will find her housing "within the next six months", Christine Boutin explained. And, if the applicant does not have accommodation by 1 December 2008, she will be able to sue the French state.
In all countries of the EU citizens are entitled to housing as a right, although this is a very new idea for Britain.
It is sad to realise how far from the provision of this most basic of rights have drifted Australia, Canada and the USA.
[English language acccount of case reported in France on 20/05/2008 - translation by Sheila Newman]