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Suspension of Structural Funds to Portugal and Spain will hit disadvantaged most

Next Monday 3rd October, the European Parliament will discuss with the European Commission about their proposal to suspend part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for Portugal and Spain in 2017, as part of their non-compliance with the European Union’s budgetary rules. In a letter to Members of the European Parliament, EASPD – alongside the Social Platform and Social Services Europe – strongly opposes the suspension of any ESI fund which supports human rights enjoyment, labour market integration and social inclusion.

EU law linking ESIF to macro-economic policy obliges the European Commission to propose to the European Council a suspension of up to 50% of structural funds to Portugal and Spain in 2017 for failing to commit to EU budgetary rules on time. On 3rd October, Vice President Mr Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner Ms Corina Cretu will discuss this issue with Members of the European Parliament.

Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, argues that “whilst we understand that the European Commission is legally obliged to propose a suspension, it must guarantee that any suspension will not impact the lives of those most disadvantaged in Portugal and Spain”. Mr Thomas Bignal, Policy Officer EASPD, adds that “Structural Funds are essential to the budget of many social service providers who help to get vulnerable people back into jobs and allow people to be integrated into the community”.

Although there is still time for Portugal and Spain to report back positively to the European Commission on their budgetary requirements, Mr Pierre Baussand, Director of the Social Platform believes that “any suspension of funds will act as a double penalty on disadvantaged groups and local communities who have already faced years of struggle, in part due to EU fiscal policy”.

Following strong concerns from social service providers in Portugal and Spain, EASPD has initiated a letter to Members of the European Parliament to highlight these fears. Social Services Europe and the Social Platform also sign the letter, expressing the social sector’s significant concern on this ongoing debate. EASPD calls on Members of the European Parliament to express their utmost concern about the impact a suspension of Structural Funds would have on bringing people out of poverty and social exclusion in Portugal and Spain.The European Commission must ensure that any suspension does not negatively affect the lives of persons in need of support.

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Note to editors

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates for effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.


Thomas Bignal, EASPD Policy Officer
+32 2 2337723