After 3 months of intense negotiations, under the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, Member States have reached a compromise on the ESF+ Regulation and other important legislation required by the cohesion package proposed by the European Commission in May 2018.
Therefore, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) has adopted this week the position of the Council on the Regulation on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and on components of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR). These are common provisions that regulate the monitoring, communication and visibility of the Cohesion Policy and relevant aspects of the forms of support (grants and financial instruments funded through this investment policy).
The new ESF+ will stimulate investment in human capital, will support the social dimension of the EU and multi-annual investment. ESF+ will also support national reform defined in the Country-Specific Recommendations in the context of the European Semester.
Ms. Rovana Plumb remarked that “The new ESF+ regulation was a priority of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council as part of the legislation package on the Cohesion Policy. By investing in people and the reforms necessary for them, social differences will be reduced and social justice will be better served inside the Union. Our citizens will better perceive the value generated by European fund investment in each Member State.”
What is the ESF+ regulation
The ESF+ regulation is the main European fund that funds Union-level public investment in developing human capital, social solidarity and inclusiveness, as well as innovation and cooperation in public health.
What is CPR?
The regulation for establishing Common Provisions defines the provisions for 7 types of EU funds: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund (CF), European Social Fund (ESF), European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF), Instrument for Border Management and Visa (IBMV).
The progress achieved in negotiations on the Cohesion Policy adds to progress achieved in February 2019, when, also under the aegis of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, the compromise of the Member States on the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund (ERDF and CF) was validated, as well as other Common Provision Regulations (CPR) on the conditions of access to European funds.
In performing these technical steps, the European Union intends to ensure that European money allocated through the Cohesion Policy are used in an intelligent manner, with the explicit aim to reduce development differences between various regions and countries, as well as social, economic and territorial inequality.
What is the Cohesion Policy?
The Cohesion Policy is a financial instrument that ensures solidarity between Member States and European regions as a guiding principle of European Integration.
The funds allocated through the Cohesion Policy have certainly generated benefits for European citizens. It can be safely said that no other financial instrument has a more clear connection to citizens and local economies.
Thanks to the Cohesion Policy, people are connected to the water, internet and transport infrastructures, enjoy better education in schools, medical care and treatment in hospitals and new qualifications in the jobs market. Thanks to the Cohesion Policy investment, people also work, innovate or start their own businesses. The benefits of the Cohesion Policy are immense, so it continues to be essential for European solidarity.
In the context of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), in May 2018 the European Commission adopted the proposal for a Regulation on ESF+ for the 2021-2027 period, which includes the existing European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI), and the EU Health Programme.
With this new approach, the European Commission seeks a better complementing of investments in the social field an increased visibility at national, regional and local level.
We should remember that the 7 year multiannual budget proposed by the European Commission amounts to 101 billion Euro, including:
– 761 million Euro for the “Employment and Social Innovation” component;
– 413 million Euro for the public health component;
– 1.2 billion Euro for social innovation.
The total budget will be decided at a later date by the Council, after the political direction is outlined by the heads of state and government and following negotiations in the European Parliament.