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  • Increased funding for the European Social Fund Plus
  • EU youth and children to be among the main beneficiaries
  • Investments in innovative solutions in the fields of employment and health

Youth and children should be among the main beneficiaries, the Employment Committee decided through a vote on increasing the European Social Fund Plus, on Monday.

The Employment Committee MEPs proposed strengthening the ESF+ funding in the EU 2021-27 long-term budget by approximately 19% compared to the European Commission’s proposal (from approximately € 89,6 billion to approximately € 106,8 billion in 2018 prices), of which €105,7 billion is to be managed jointly by the EU and member states.


Investing more in young people and children


Employment Committee MEPs proposed that in member states where the number of young people currently not in employment, education or training (NEET-rate) is above the EU average, or above 15%, at least 15% should go to youth employability (up from 10% in the Commission proposal).

At least 5% of the ESF+ resources under shared management should be allocated to targeted actions to implement the European Child Guarantee in order to contribute to children’s equal access to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition.


Helping those who need it most


MEPs also voted to increase the minimum investment in social inclusion under shared management (up to 27% compared to 25% proposed by the Commission). This increase would also positively affect the situation of the most vulnerable groups and make employment, education and training more accessible to people with disabilities.

In addition, MEPs proposed increasing the budget for combatting extreme poverty under shared management. At least 3% should be spent on social inclusion of the most deprived persons and/or addressing material deprivation through food and basic material assistance.


Innovative solutions for health and labour policies


The ESF+ funds managed by the European Commission (approximately €1,1 billion in 2018 prices) would be allocated to the employment and social innovation strand and the health strand.

Employment and social innovation measures should support evidence-based policy-making, social innovation and social progress, as well as geographical labour mobility, and microfinance and micro-enterprises.

The health strand should support a European Union public health strategy, investment in early diagnosis and screening and the quality of health information. Furthermore, it should support the transition towards person-centred care and tackle health inequalities.



Verónica Lope Fontagné (EPP, ES), the lead MEP, said: “The EU can and must do more for our citizens, all of them count and we need a targeted approach for those who are in need. We have to achieve higher levels of employment, modernise education, lifelong learning and health systems. The ESF + will be the best tool to reach these objectives.


“With this vote, the European Parliament sends a clear and strong message not only to the European citizens but also to the rest of the European institutions about the social and employment policies that the European Union has to focus on. Young people are the future of our society and improving their participation in the labour market will continue to be one of the key priorities, in particular for those young people who are hardest to reach. We cannot allow a 26,4% children at risk of poverty or social exclusion. We have to work to ensure equal opportunities for all, access to education and break the vicious circle of poverty.


We are ready. In January, we will have a plenary mandate to commence inter-institutional negotiations and I hope the European Council will be ready to start negotiations as soon as possible, so that we can deliver a Regulation that contributes to improving welfare and social cohesion during this term.


The EU can only be competitive if it maintains high levels of employment, education, health and social inclusion, without leaving anyone behind.”



Next steps


The text was adopted with 38 votes to 3. Employment Committee MEPs now urge the Council to adopt a general approach and start negotiations as soon as possible.


Background


The European Social Fund Plus has been investing in citizens for over 60 years. It contributes to social inclusion, job opportunities, fighting poverty, education, skills and the employability of young people, as well as in better living conditions, health and fairer societies. At the same time, the individual projects and programmes developed must contribute to improving economic, social and territorial cohesion.