The ESF+ is not adequately funded to meet the needs of social cohesion policy. Therefore, the EESC is strongly opposed to reducing the overall financial envelope for the ESF+ for the 2021-2027 period.
Instead, the EESC reiterates its request for the allocation of 30% of all resources earmarked for economic, social and territorial cohesion policy to the ESF+, and, in addition, for the allocation of 30% of existing resources under the ESF+ to social inclusion measures.
The EESC is in favour of allowing the ESF+ operations to be co-financed using the Resilience and Recovery Facility. The use of the ESF+ to fund operations in support of the green and digital transformation should be focused on upskilling and reskilling, and be complementary to other European funding under the Multiannual Financial Framework and to the Resilience and Recovery Facility.
While the allocation of 5% of the ESF+ resources to tackle child poverty is considered an absolute minimum, the proposal to increase the minimum envelope for inclusion of persons not in education, employment or training to 15% is supported.
Given the role of the ESF+ in implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EESC urges the European Commission to better monitor the social situation of Member States in the European Semester, which should be based on an adequate set of social indicators.
The EESC insists on allocating enough funding for the capacity building of social partners and other civil society organisations providing services financed by the ESF+.
The EESC reiterates its request that the social economy becomes a specific stand-alone objective under the ESF+.
In connection with the removal of the health strand from the ESF, informal carers should be identified as a target group of the ESF+.
The EESC recommends the introduction of a recital clarifying that there are no restrictions on the access of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants to the measures financed by the ESF+.