The European Social Fund (ESF) should account for at least 25% of EU cohesion policy funding in 2014-2020, said Employment and Social Affairs Committee MEPs in a vote on Thursday. MEPs also rejected the idea of making the allocation of funds to social projects conditional upon the respect for budget discipline required by the EU stability and growth pact.
“Today the European Parliament has shown that it is fully mobilised on social policies, which is as it should be, given the crisis. Our demand to the EU Council of Ministers is that at least 25% of EU structural funding be reserved for the ESF and that at least 20% of social funding be reserved to fight poverty" said rapporteur Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (EPP, FR). The resolution was adopted with 38 votes in favour, 3 against and 1 abstention.
The ESF aims to promote high standards of employment, education and training and to support the mobility of workers.
At least 25% of cohesion funds
According to the Commission proposal, at least 25% of the €376 billion cohesion fund budget should be dedicated to the ESF, i.e. €84 billion.
MEPs backed the proposal that the resources intended to improve skills and raise employment levels should account for at least 25% of cohesion policy funds.
No link between ESF payments and budget discipline
Reducing funding to support human capital development and fight social exclusion can only further penalise member states experiencing economic or budgetary difficulties and reduce their chances of recovery in the long term, MEPs underline.
Thus “under no circumstances must payments under the ESF be suspended in connection with a member state’s performance in the context of the Union’s economic governance process”, they say.
Social exclusion and poverty
According to the Employment and Social Affairs committee, the ESF must step up its support for fighting social exclusion and poverty by allocating at least 20% of ESF resources in each member state to this task.
Following the committee vote, a team formed by Ms Morin Chartier, the shadow rapporteurs and Employment and Social Affairs Committee Chair Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR), will enter into negotiations with Council.
In the Chair: Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR)
Procedure: co-decision, first reading