The EESC endorses the underlying principles of the draft regulation. At the same time, the Committee notes that the financial resources are not sufficient to achieve the Fund's aims.
The budget of this new fund should be commensurate with the objective of the Europe 2020 strategy to reduce the number of people living in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
The EESC favours fully financing the new fund from the EU budget (without co-financing), as was the case for material assistance programmes in previous years.
The EESC supports the simplified procedures and reduction in the administrative burden and it cautions against the possible use by the Member States of the complex procedures of the European Social Fund.
The EESC welcomes the provisions providing partner organisations with a sufficient level of liquidity and the fact that the fund will also cover additional costs and finance the capacity building of partner organisations.
The EESC calls for the inclusion of civil society organisations in the process of monitoring and assessing the operational programmes at Member State level.
The EESC calls on the national governments to define, in cooperation with civil society organisations, the position and role of the new fund so that it effectively complements other action to combat poverty and social exclusion, including action supported by the European Social Fund.
The EESC emphasises that the EU and its Member States base their social policy on the European social model, social science standards and the Europe 2020 strategy. Reliable social welfare structures and in particular access to social services are required. All kinds of aid must avoid exacerbating poverty and stigmatising the people concerned.
In view of the diversity of national policies and considering the seriously inadequate budget, the EESC calls for the introduction of an optional system for the use of the Fund by individual Member States.