The ESF in the news
Easier use of cohesion policy funding to counter the crisis
On 5 December, the Council adopted a regulation aimed at facilitating the use of funding from the EU cohesion policy for 2007-2013 in order to counter the crisis. This confirmed an agreement reached earlier between the Lithuanian presidency and representatives of the European Parliament and the Commission.
The purpose of cohesion policy is to reduce disparities between the levels of development of the EU's various regions by promoting economic growth, job creation and competitiveness.
The new regulation provides for two key measures:
For payments made under the European social fund (ESF), the European regional development fund (ERDF) and the cohesion fund the EU co-financing rates will be increased by ten percentage points above the usual co-financing rates, to a maximum of 95%. The increased co-financing rates will be applicable to countries under financial assistance at the moment of the entry into force of the regulation, i.e. Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and Portugal and apply until 31 December 2015. The top-ups do not increase the total appropriations for the affected countries, meaning that no additional EU funding is needed. A similar measure had been taken in 2011.
Romania and Slovakia will have one year more time to use the commitments made in 2011 and 2012, meaning that these commitments can be used until the end of 2014 and 2015 respectively (rather than until the end of 2013 and 2014). This measure is designed to improve the absorption of funding. It responds to an invitation of the European Council of 8 February 2013 to seek a solution to reduce the risk of automatic de-commitment of funds from the 2007-2013 national envelopes of Romania and Slovakia, as these countries are affected by the 110% capping in the possible increase of their cohesion allocation for 2014- 2020 compared to 2007-2013.