Strengthening the European Union's social dimension and investing in people
Investing in people and strengthening the social dimension of the European Union has been a core priority of the Juncker Commission. The next long-term EU budget clearly reflects this commitment, as the Commission proposes to reinforce, pool and better target several existing Funds that already now put people at the centre. More specifically, the Commission proposes to establish a renewed European Social Fund, the 'European Social Fund Plus' (ESF+), and a strengthened and more effective European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). Both are geared to invest in people: ensuring they are equipped with the right skills needed to deal with challenges and changes on the labour market, following up on the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The Commission also proposed to double funding for the Erasmus programme to €30 billion and to increase funding for Creative Europe, the programme supporting European cultural and creative sectors and audiovisual works, to €1.85 billion.
For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission proposed to make €181 million available to support Member States' efforts to fight fraud, corruption and other irregularities affecting the EU budget.
Today's proposals are part of the Commission’s proposals for the long-term EU budget adopted by the Commission on 2 May 2018.
For the period 2021-2027, the European Social Fund Plus would be worth €101.2 billion, and the Globalisation Adjustment Fund €1.6 billion. Both are geared to invest in people: ensuring they are equipped with the right skills needed to deal with challenges and changes on the labour market, following up on the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Justice, Rights and Values Fund has a proposed budget allocation of €947 million over the 7 years, €642 million for the Rights and Values programme and €305 million for the Justice programme.
The European Social Fund Plus will focus on investment in people and support the delivery of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This helps to respond to global challenges, maintain social fairness but also to drive Europe's competitiveness forward. The European Social Fund Plus will be a more flexible and simpler version of the current European Social Fund by merging a number of existing funds and programmes. Pooling resources will allow the EU and Member States to provide more integrated and targeted support in response to the social and labour market challenges that people in Europe face today. For instance, integrating support to the most deprived into the ESF+ will benefit eligible persons through a better mix of material assistance and comprehensive social support.
Specifically, the European Social Fund Plus will merge:
- the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI);
- the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD);
- the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation;
- the EU Health Programme.
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be revised so that it can intervene more effectively to support workers who have lost their jobs. Currently, workers can only get support from the Fund when their dismissals are due to changing trade patterns or consequences of the financial and economic crisis. Under the new rules, other reasons for restructuring, such as automation, digitalisation and more, can be eligible for support, taking account of new challenges on the labour market.
The new rules will also lower the threshold of dismissed workers for a case to be eligible from 500 to 250, which will allow more workers to get support. Other proposed changes include an improved mobilisation process to simplify and speed up the procedures. Finally, the Fund's co-financing rate, which currently stands at 60%, will be aligned with the highest ESF+ co-financing rates for a given Member State. In several cases this would mean that the EU co-finances a higher share of the total cost.
The Justice, Rights and Values Fund will help fight inequalities and discrimination, better protect children, and improve judicial cooperation to better fight criminality and terrorism. The Fund will contribute to the further development of a European area of justice based on the rule of law, on mutual recognition and mutual trust. It will also enhance and support the key role of Non-Governmental Organisations and civil society in promoting, safeguarding and awareness raising for EU common values and ensuring people can enjoy their rights.
With doubled funding, the Erasmus programme will be even more effective in supporting key political objectives such as building a European Education Area by 2025, empowering young people and promoting a European identity through youth, education and culture policies. The aim of the Commission's proposal is to increase the number of beneficiaries, reach out to people from all social backgrounds, build stronger relations with the rest of the world, focus on promoting forward-looking study fields and promote a European identity with a travel experience.
The Commission's proposal to reinforce the EU's cultural and creative sectors is focused on three areas: MEDIA – the Creative Europe programme to support the EU's film and other audiovisual industries; Culture; and cross-sectoral actions.
Regarding MEDIA, €1.081 billion will fund audiovisual projects and stimulate competitiveness in the audiovisual sector in Europe. The MEDIA programme will continue to support the development, distribution and promotion of European films, TV programmes and video games. In the coming years, more money will be invested in the international promotion and distribution of European works and innovative storytelling, including virtual reality. An online directory of EU films will be created to reinforce the accessibility and visibility of European works.
For Culture, the Commission proposes that €609 million from the new budget will be allocated to promoting Europe's cultural and creative sectors. Cooperation projects, networks and platforms will be set up to connect talented artists across Europe and make it easier for creators to cooperate across borders.
€160 million will fund SMEs and other organisations working in the cultural and creative sectors. The funding will also be used to promote cultural policy cooperation across the EU, to promote a free, diverse and pluralistic media environment, and to support qualitative journalism and media literacy.
The new EU Anti-Fraud Programme will finance targeted training and the exchange of information and best practice between anti-fraud enforcers across Europe. It will also provide support for investigative activities through the purchase of technical equipment used in detecting and investigating fraud, as well as facilitate access to secure information systems.
30 May 2018