Speaking at the conference "Territorial Dimension of the European Social Fund", organised by the Polish Presidency of the EU in Warsaw, Commissioner László Andor highlighted the role of the European Social Fund in achieving the EU headline targets for 2020 and the "importance of regional and local partnerships to strengthen the fund's territorial dimension".
The EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion took the opportunity to mention that the Commission will propose on 5 October new rules for the EU's future cohesion policy – which the ESF is part of. These will be subsequently discussed in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
Mr Andor highlighted the key principles of the Commission's upcoming proposals for the future ESF in the 2014-2020 financial period: "First, we want to invest more in people – in human and social capital. The European Social Fund plays a key role in supporting progress towards the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy , especially regarding employment, education and poverty reduction".
To support this, the Commission has put forward proposals to increase the budget for the European Social Fund by at least 7.5% - in other words, a minimum of €84 billion or 25% of Cohesion Policy over 2014-2020.
Besides being a tool for promotion of employment, adaptability to economic changes and social inclusion, the ESF is also part of the Cohesion policy. "We also need to invest better by improving the effectiveness of cohesion policy; encouraging Member States and regions to concentrate resources on key priorities and simplifying our delivery system, putting our beneficiaries centre-stage", the Commissioner added.
On the territorial dimension of the ESF, Mr Andor confirmed that already more than two-thirds of the fund's Operational Programmes (OPs) are regional.
"We want to encourage a more territorialised, bottom-up approach in the next programming period, supporting projects that contribute to EU-wide investment priorities by tackling specific local problems", Mr Andor concluded.