EESC opinion: European Social Fund

EESC opinion: European Social Fund

Key points

The EESC is in favour of the ESF continuing to contribute to securing social, economic and territorial cohesion and to combating all forms of discrimination.

The ESF should be the preferred instrument for implementing the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, particularly with regard to employment, education, social inclusion and combating poverty, in all regions of the EU. In every Member State, at least 40% of all ESF resources should be earmarked for the thematic objective "promoting employment and supporting labour mobility".

The EESC endorses the emphasis on social innovation, research and innovation, accessibility and use of information and communication technologies, enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs, environmental protection, the transition to a low-carbon economy and sustainable use of resources.

The EESC endorses the proposal that at least 20% of all ESF resources be earmarked for "promoting social inclusion and combating poverty".

The partnership principle, which involves the social and economic partners and organisations representing civil society, provides an essential guarantee that measures linked to the Structural Funds, particularly the European Social Fund, will work properly.

The EESC completely rejects the Commission's proposal to apply Structural Fund financial penalties and incentives on the basis of compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact.

Europe needs a different type of economic governance which focuses on growth and competitiveness, facilitates investment in human resources and promotes justice, cohesion and the principles of solidarity and social integration. The EU's budget has to be reformed in line with these principles.

The budget allocated to the European Social Fund must at least be maintained at the same level as for the last planning period. The ESF must also support involvement of citizens, civil society and a greater awareness of the common values of Europe.