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The EU budget: funding a better future


The European Council of 8 February 2013 – Group photo
© European Union

The smaller 2014-2020 budget agreed by the European Council includes ESF priority funding for youth employment measures and help for the most deprived groups

On the 8th February European leaders agreed the EU budget for the period 2014-2020. The overall budget – known as the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) – is less than the current 2007-2013 period, reflecting the fiscal austerity measures being taken across the EU at national level.

For the Structural Funds, including the ESF, €325.1 billion is available. This represents a cut of some 8%. Overall, as a mark of solidarity, the less well-off Member States will receive a larger share of structural funding than at present.

European leaders stressed the need to use the funding to boost growth and employment. There will be a new, €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) with half its funding from the ESF. The YEI will ‘top up’ ESF initiatives in regions with high youth unemployment (over 25%) by supporting measures such as traineeships and apprenticeship schemes for young people. There is also extra help for the most deprived groups, including food aid, which will be funded with €2.5 billion from the ESF. The overall ESF share of available structural funding is still to be determined, but European leaders stressed that the necessary support for human capital will be ensured through an adequate share of the ESF in cohesion policy.