The EESC is highly critical of the proposed six percent reduction in allocations for the new European Social Fund Plus which will, in the new EU long-term funding period 2021-2027, merge several existing funds and programmes aimed at strengthening the Union’s social dimension.
The EESC is opposed to the elimination of the mandatory minimum share of funds earmarked for the ESF+ in the next cohesion policy budget, currently set at 23.1%; neither does it agree with the proposal for a reduction in the Fund’s European co-funding rate.
The EESC calls for 30% of resources for economic, social and territorial cohesion policies to be allocated to the ESF+ and recommends that 30% of ESF+ resources be earmarked for social inclusion measures.
“The six percent cut in ESF+ funding is unacceptable given the persistent high rate of poverty in the EU, which stands at over 23%," said Krzysztof Balon, who authored the EESC's opinion on the Commission’s proposal for the ESF+.
Although objecting to the decrease in funding, the EESC welcomes the proposal, amongst other things on account of its alignment with the European Pillar of Social Rights and the fact that it merges existing funds in order to improve the fight against poverty, social exclusion and unemployment.
According to the EESC, the ESF+ should devote a targeted amount of funds to youth employment and to building up the capacity of civil society organisations. Civil society should be fully involved in planning and implementing the ESF+ projects. (ll)