Towards the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) 2021-2027

Towards the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) 2021-2027

In preparation for the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027 on 30 May 2018 the European Commission, within the proposal for the next multi-annual financial framework for 2021-2027, published a proposal for the regulation on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) as the EU’s main instrument to invest in people and to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. With a provisional budget of €101.2 billion EUR the ESF+ proposes to merge the following existing funds and programmes:

  • the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI);
  • the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD);
  • the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme;
  • the Programme for the Union’s action in the field of health (the Health Programme).

The new fund will concentrate its investment in three main areas: education, employment and social inclusion.

The merger was proposed to streamline and simplify existing rules across the different funds and increase synergies between the components of the new European Social Fund +, with a stronger alignment with the recommendations and country analysis provided under the European Semester and with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. SOLIDAR welcomes the streamlining of the funding and advocates that the simplification of the funding rules should lead to more efficient management of funds by both funders and the beneficiaries.

After the Commission Proposal the process it is now in the European Parliament.

The file has been allocated to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) with Verónica Lope Fontagne EPP as rapporteur.

The draft report was presented in the EMPL Committee on 29 August 2018. After the time for the amendments. There will be a Committee vote scheduled for the end of November and then the Trilogues; followed by submission to the European Parliament plenary and subsequent vote expected for April 2019.

Different stakeholders, such as ETUC, Social Platform and the European Youth Forum etc. have expressed their comments and opinions on the Draft opinion of the European Parliament. The Confederation of European trade unions (ETUC) calls for the ESF+ to keep playing a major role ‘both in supporting the creation of new quality employment and in promoting social inclusion’ and for Member States to allocate 30 % for the ESF+ spending and not the proposed 25%.

The European Youth Forum and ETUC welcome that their call to earmark 25% for social inclusion compared to the current 20 % has been incorporated in the Commission Proposal. They also support the earmarking of 10 % of funding for youth employment in countries with higher youth unemployment rates, using the NEET indicator. However, The EYF deplore that there is a lack of information as to how much will be allocated in absolute numbers.

In line with our partner network SOLIDAR supports the link established in the ESF+ proposal with the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Semester and Country Specific Recommendations. These are topics where we need more Europe. Only an increase in the spending in the social areas, even after the Brexit, can enable the EU to supports its goal of building a Social Europe and respect its commitment to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the European Pillar of Social Rights.  Moreover, the Fund should recognise the value of European Civil Societies in their role of bridging between the grassroots level and EU Policy makers. 

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