An €815 million EU Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme for 2014-2020, informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in July, was endorsed by Social Affairs Committee MEPs on Thursday. EaSI will draw together three existing programmes to fund measures such as facilitating access to microfinance and workers' geographical mobility across the EU.
"This is the first social programme closed under the new multiannual financial framework. The Parliament gave the programme a common consistent structure with clear funding priorities for innovative initiatives to boost employment and combat social exclusion. I am disappointed, however, that the Council did not support Parliament's proposal to introduce a youth initiative axis", said rapporteur Jutta Steinruck (S&D, DE).
The Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI) brings together and extends the coverage of three existing programmes:
- the Microfinance Facility, which lends small sums to enable people who are unemployed or at risk of losing their jobs to set up their own companies. EaSI will extend it to cover social enterprises, i.e. those whose primary aim is to achieve positive social impacts rather than to generate profits,
- the European Employment Services (EURES) which finances mobility projects and provides information on jobs and learning opportunities across Europe. EaSI will expand it to connect job seekers and employers across the EU and to create cross-border partnerships between employments services of cross-border regions to foster employment and voluntary geographical mobility, and
- the Progress programme, which finances a wide range of projects run by dedicated organisations, NGOs or public administrations, campaigns and information exchange in the fields of employment, social inclusion and equal opportunities.
MEPs amended EaSI to make the three sub-programmes more consistent and improve financial transparency by detailing how funds should be spent within them.
Of EaSI's €815 million budget for 2014-2020, 61% will be allocated to Progress, 18% to EURES and 21% to Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship.
EaSI will focus on helping young people, promoting gender equality, combating discrimination and reducing long-term unemployment and social exclusion.
Voting results: 34 votes in favour, 2 against
Procedure: co-decision, first reading