In his State of the Union address this morning, President Junker professed his desire for the EU to take better care of its social dimension as a part of its commitments towards the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. To do this the EU must ensure that the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 works for everyone and enables the inclusion of all in Europe, by investing in the provision of high quality support services.
The European Union makes a significant contribution to quality social service provision in Europe, funding thousands of projects which help support services to innovate, digitalise, train staff and invest in new infrastructure. Through such activities, the EU budget helps to improve the quality of life of millions in Europe; thus being a major instrument to support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The European Commission has recently launched their proposals regarding the next EU Budget post-2020, including initiatives such as modernising the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) , creating InvestEU, doubling the size of the Erasmus programme and increasing the budget for research through the Horizon Europe programme. The proposals are currently being negotiated by the EU’s co-decision makers: the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Mr Jim Crowe, President of EASPD, states “The European Union plays a unique role in Europe. By investing in the transition to community-based services, the EU Budget plays a leading role in the reform of support services for persons with disabilities. The Commission’s recent proposals help the EU to fulfil this role and we call on the European Parliament and Council of the European Union to maximise the next EU budget’s potential in this regard."
For several months now, EASPD has been actively engaged with the different European institutions on the next EU Budget; highlighting three major keystones that are particularly crucial for an effective and efficient EU budget for social inclusion:
- Social Inclusion must be targeted throughout the EU Budget. The earmarking for social inclusion in ESF+ and a social window in the InvestEU programme is very positive. There is room for improvement in the Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programmes however. These programmes have much potential for supporting innovation in one of Europe’s biggest growing sectors, yet they underwhelm in this regard.
- We welcome the ambition to improve access to EU funds, notably through the simplification measures. Caution is required to ensure that simplification also benefit the beneficiaries; not just the managing authorities. The proposed decrease in EU co-financing in ESF+ is also a step in the wrong direction as it will simply lead to less quality social projects being financed.
- EU funds should be synonymous to quality investment; which is why we welcome the strengthened approach to “enabling conditions” in ESF+ and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as well as the development of quality investment guidelines in InvestEU.
Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General of EASPD, welcomes the fact that “the European Commission’s proposals aim to make progress on these three aspects.” Adding that “the structured involvement of civil society and those using EU fund on the ground, in our local communities, is vital to ensure the European Union budget has the most positive impact on the day to day lives of people in Europe. The Partnership principle must therefore be guaranteed and strengthened!”
EASPD’s latest position paper on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, provides more information on what the next MFF can do to unlock the full potential of support services and achieve the goals of the EU in creating a more social Europe. Our upcoming event in Brussels, on the 18th October: “Social Infrastructure Investment, from local innovative ideas to InvestEU project funding," will further explore the role of the European Union in unlocking the much needed investment into local innovative social infrastructure projects.
Over the next few months, supported by its positions on the next EU Budget, included below, EASPD and its partners will continue to work closely with key stakeholders, policy makers and members of civil society to ensure that the EU budget benefits all. Without the reinforcement of these three keystones the MFF misses vital opportunities to create an inclusive Europe, that provides added value to the lives of its people.
-EEG’s first reactions to the proposed regulations for the European Social Fund+, the European Regional Development Fund and the Common Provisions Regulation for the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework