European Social Fund+

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EESK atzinums: European Social Fund+

The EESC welcomes the proposal for the ESF+ to improve merge funds and simplify procedures, but is critical of a financial cut in EU cohesion policy, and, as regards the ESF+, of the 6% decrease of the funding allocated to it. It calls for 30% of total resources for economic, social and territorial cohesion policies to be allocated to the ESF+ and for 30% of the ESF+ resources to be earmarked for social inclusion measures.


Key points

The EESC:

  • welcomes the proposal for the ESF+ to improve the merged funds and simplify procedures;
  • is however highly critical of a financial cut in EU cohesion policy, and, as regards the ESF+, of the 6% decrease of the funding allocated to it;
  • does not agree either with the elimination of the minimum share (currently set at 23.1%) of cohesion policy funding under the ESF+;
  • disagrees with the proposal of reducing the European co-funding rate of the ESF+;
  • calls for 30% of total resources for economic, social and territorial cohesion policies to be allocated to the ESF+, and, within the ESF+, for 30% of resources to be earmarked for social inclusion measures;
  • asks the Commission to further simplify the rules of the ESF+ for both managing authorities and beneficiaries, while ensuring that projects comply with EU values;
  • agrees that the enabling condition of active inclusion, under which Member States must have national strategies against poverty and social exclusion in order to qualify for funding under the ESF+, should continue to apply to all Member States;
  • recommends to use the ESF+ in a manner consistent with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD);
  • finds that partnership agreements and operational programmes should be subject to sanctions if they do not respect the obligations of the European Code of Conduct on Partnership (ECCP);
  • supports the revision of the composition of the ESF+ Committee, as described in Art. 40 (2) of the Regulation;
  • recommends to keep transnationality (or cross-border activities) as a major component of the operational programmes;
  • deems it important to establish a high level of funding for key action in the following fields: quality youth employment, gender equality initiatives, inclusion and employment of vulnerable groups, lifelong learning and up-skilling in the context of a digitalised labour market, strengthening public services of general interest, and capacity-building of the public administration, the social partners and other CSOs;
  • strongly recommends to improve the correlation between the ESF+ and the Country Specific Recommendations of the European Semester and
  • strongly recommends avoiding strict conditionalities that are not in the interest of the beneficiaries.

 

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Follow-up to SOC/537 Tackling poverty and social exclusion