Established in 1997 as an Economic Interest Grouping under Belgian law, EPF is a pan-European organisation of national property associations and companies representing all aspects of property ownership and investment: residential and commercial landlords big and small, housing companies and property investment and development companies and funds.
Represented countries currently are Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland (through direct company membership), Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom (through national property associations) and Iceland (via companies that are members of the Scandinavian International Property Association, another EPF member).
EPF's members own and manage property assets worth € 1.5 trillion.
There are also Academic Members (real estate faculties in universities or real estate training institutes) from Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands.
EPF's main missions are to:
♦ help EU policy makers and legislators understand the nature of the property investment and management business and the opportunities that well-conceived EU property regulation offers for the the Union's economy and citizens;
♦ increase the property industry's understanding of EU policy impacts on real estate ;
♦ help the property industry seize the business opportunities offered by EU rules on state aid, free movement of capital and services and EU/Eurozone economic governance;
♦ bring the entire property industry together to address European issues, either inside EPF or in coalition.
The Statutes (Article 5) stipulate that the EPF comprises both full and associate members. Each must represent substantial property interests. There are also academic members.
May be admitted as full members:
May be admitted as associate members any associations or groupings of property interests established outside the European Union which are invited to join the EPF because of shared common interests.
May be admitted as academic members any physical or legal persons (in particular any institution, public or private), which dispense teaching with a direct or indirect link to real estate.
♦ Increasing the property industry's understanding of EU policy impacts on real estate
EU impacts are almost always indirect and not easily 'visible' to real estate operators on the ground. As most EU regulation of real estate comes via Directives that need to be transposed into national law, operators seldom see beyond the 'national' rules and have no idea of their European origins. For example, how many people know that their national energy performance certificate for buildings is European in origin? Is it obvious to all property investors that they are entitled to buy and sell land and buildings anywhere in the EU without obstacle?
EPF's members receive information on these issues, seminars for groups of EPF members are held in Brussels and the EPF Secretariat gives presentations at member associations and at property conferences.
♦ Helping the property industry seize the business opportunities offered by EU rules on state aid, free movement of capital and services and EU/Eurozone economic governance
Real estate entrepreneurship is often held back by national state aid, by planning rules or by product or service cartels infringing EU law. EPF works with its members to bring the EU authorities' attention to these infringements to ensure European freedoms when the local property industry has run out of national options.
The EPF Secretariat provides advice on these cases and the whole Federation follows through to help members with problems.
EU/Eurozone economic governance is not regulation but rather a form of 'benchmarking with a stick' which covers practically all aspects of real estate policy as these are essential to a more competitive European economy. EPF has just begun exploring the possibilities this opens for rationalising and liberalising real estate markets.
♦ Monitoring and Analysis
Members are informed on a timely basis of EU legislative and other initiatives affecting their interests. As appropriate, the Secretariat issues its advice on any possible or required action, proactive or defensive. Any member may ask the Secretariat to investigate any property-relevant topic of interest to that member.
Practical Advantage: Members receive concise analysis of the initiative as well as any related official and non-official texts. The EPF Secretariat provides analysis and strategic advice of sufficient depth and quality to enable Members to understand the initiative and make their decisions without having to study the official text.
♦ Action, representation of EPF
In close cooperation with the Chairman of the Managing Committee, the Secretariat defines the strategy and tactical means of action, polls member points of view and drafts a common position acceptable to all members. The Secretariat intervenes with the European Institutions and coordinates the representations of EPF members aimed at their national governments and at their nationals in the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions.
Members provide experts for meetings with EU officials. The Chairman of the Managing Committee and the Chairmen of the advisory committees have an active role. The Federation is characterised by a high degree of interaction between Members and Secretariat, an essential ingredient of its success.
Ideally, a member association must be structured and organised so as to be able to effectively follow and participate in EPF work, coordinate any required action on its territory and inform its own members of EPF activities. The EPF Secretariat helps members achieve this through regular contacts, visits to Member associations and other forms of specifically adapted support.
♦ Helping members deal with the implementation of EU Directives into national law
Successes by EPF in Brussels can be lost in an individual member state during the process of transposing the rules of the Directive into national law because the Directive represents a minimum level of regulation and governments are usually free to do more. EPF helps its members to avoid these problems.
♦ The Federation also helps individual members with their particular EU-related problems
If an EU-related problem affects only one of our members, but if the consequences for that member are important, then the whole Federation is at the service of that one member.
♦ Participation in international fora
EPF uses property conferences as part of its effort to remove obstacles to property investment across Europe.