Parliament gave its final approval on Tuesday to the main instrument that the EU will have for the next seven years to support people and reduce inequalities. The European Social Fund +, with a total endowment of € 88 billion, it will play a key role in the development of the action plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights and in the fight against the socio-economic effects of the pandemic.
During the negotiation with the Council, Parliament succeeded in raising the ambition of the investing in youth employment and fighting child poverty, focusing on two of the groups hardest hit by the crisis.
Member States with a percentage higher than the EU average between 2017 and 2019 of young people who neither work nor study nor do they follow training courses (“NEETs”), they must dedicate at least 12.5% of their Social Fund allocation to initiatives aimed at improving their skills or helping them find quality employment. The other countries must also allocate funds to this objective, preferably through the application of the Youth Guarantee.
Along the same lines, the Member States with a percentage higher than the European average between 2017 and 20 219 of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion they will have to use at least 5% of their resources from the Fund to directly support access to childcare, education, health and housing for these minors. All countries should dedicate investment to this chapter.
Support for those most in need
At the initiative of the EP, at least a quarter of the funds will go to measures to promote equal opportunities for disadvantaged groups, including marginalized communities such as Roma and third-country nationals, to reduce barriers they encounter in the labor market, tackle discrimination and address health inequalities.
The new European Social Fund + integrates, among others, the current European Aid Fund for the Most Deprived (FEAD). The new rules state that all countries must use at least 3% of the money they receive from the Fund to purchase food and basic material assistance to tackle the most extreme poverty.
Context in Spain
Spain received 10,288 million euros during the 2014-2020 period from this fund, although it has only spent 42% of the financing obtained (4,360 million euros), according to data published by the European Commission. The largest amount was allocated to access to employment and labor mobility (713 million euros) followed by active inclusion (584 million euros).