Barriers to entry

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The Contracting Parties shall apply the rules set out in this paragraph in addition and without prejudice to their obligations under European Union law: (a) the budgetary position of the general government of a Contracting Party shall be balanced or in surplus; (b) the rule under point (a) shall be deemed to be respected if the annual structural balance of the general government is at its country-specific medium-term objective, as defined in the revised Stability and Growth Pact, with a lower limit of a structural deficit of 0,5 % of the gross domestic product at market prices. The Contracting Parties shall ensure rapid convergence towards their respective medium-term objective. The time-frame for such convergence will be proposed by the European Commission taking into consideration country-specific sustainability risks. Progress towards, and respect of, the medium-term objective shall be evaluated on the basis of an overall assessment with the structural balance as a reference, including an analysis of expenditure net of discretionary revenue measures, in line with the revised Stability and Growth Pact.[1]

The above text is a segment from the European Commission's Fiscal Compact Treaty that relates to national governments' ability to use revenue for investment in social projects such as the building of social housing, roads, rail, renewable energy, or any other initiative that would seek to use public funds for social infrastructure. Member states of the European Union are prevented from pursuing such projects if their overall debt to GDP ratio is above 60%.[2] What this means in real terms is that, despite the fact that financial resources exist at a national level to deal with critical issues such as housing shortages, states are prevented from doing so.

The Foster Court Hotel in Galway city centre lies empty while people are forced to sleep rough on the street outside.

Chronic homelessness is on the rise in Ireland, as hotels and houses sit idle, boarded up, serving no immediate purpose. As of November 2016, 59 vacant properties exist in Galway City, yet approximately 64 families are in emergency accommodation, and rising.[3] The Irish state's hands seemingly tied by the EU, there is a distinct lack of political leadership to marry existing resources with needs in the face of EU imperatives toward austerity, and the majesty of the free market.

Boarded up social housing in Galway city.

In theories of competition in economics, a barrier to entry, is a cost that must be incurred by a new entrant into a market that incumbents don't have or haven't had to incur.[4] Ironically, the way that Ireland's economic system has been structured acts as a literal barrier to entry for people in need of housing accommodation.

Hostile Architecture

The emergence of "anti homeless spikes" has been one rather brutal physical manifestation of how urban planners have innovated in the redevelopment of public-private spaces to discourage people from using them in a way not intended by the owner. Sloped benches and window sills, or benches with armrests that prevent people from lying down are another example.


This is also known as hostile architecture or defensive architecture, a development that sets out to deal with symptoms rather than cures.[5] Another example is the emission of high pitched tones which are only audible to young people, which serves to discourage groups of youths from loitering in specific areas. Critics of such tactics argue that it uses architecture to enforce social divisions. It is becoming more and more common in many cities and urban centers as public space increasingly becomes privatised.


  1. "Stability and Growth Pact", The European Commission, retrieved November 2016.
  2. See: "Ireland Strategic Investment Fund", The National Treasury Management Agency, retrieved November 2016.
  3. "Housing and Homelessness Crisis in numbers", Simon Community, August 2016, retrieved November 2016.
  4. See: "Competition and Barriers to Entry", Policy Brief, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, January 2007, retrieved November 2016.
  5. "Hostile Architecture", Wikipedia, retrieved November 2016.