Parliament's Employment Committee rapporteur, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (EPP, FR), voiced mixed feelings on Thursday about the European Commission's new cohesion policy proposal for 2014-2020. She was concerned about a possible link between the allocation of funds to social projects and the respect for budget discipline required by the stability and growth pact.
"The new proposal by the European Commission makes important steps forward as regards integrating Europeans in the job market: the allocation of funds in accordance with the priorities of the 2020 strategy for growth and employment, the allocation of at least 20% of European Social Fund credits to social inclusion and combating poverty, and simplifying procedures", said Ms Morin-Chartier (EPP, FR).
She nonetheless expressed concerns about a possible link between the allocation of funds and respect for the stability and growth pact: "we cannot impose a double penalty on countries already in difficulty".
The Commission proposal lists three categories of regions for allocating ESF funds: "least developed", "transition" and "most developed". "Taking account of the diversity of territories is vital in a strong EU policy", said Ms Morin-Chartier.
EU food aid programme
The European food aid programme for the most deprived (PEAD) could be attached to the European Social Fund, suggested Ms Morin-Chartier. "The PEAD must be clearly identified, food aid is indispensable, but the ESF will remain the tool for social integration via integration in the labour market. I therefore ask that aid for the most deprived be fully preserved and increased".
Globalisation adjustment fund
The Commission also presented a new proposal on the European globalisation adjustment fund (EGF). At the September II plenary session in Strasbourg, Parliament backed a Commission proposal to extend EGF crisis measures to the end of 2013 and the EGF itself beyond 2013.