The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached between the European Parliament and EU Member States in the Council on the Commission's proposal for a Regulation on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+).
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The ESF+ will be a key financial instrument to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, to support jobs and create a fair and socially inclusive society. It will also provide much needed resources to Member States for the recovery of our societies and economies after the coronavirus crisis.
The ESF+ has a total budget of €88 billion (in 2018 prices). It will invest in people, creating and protecting job opportunities, promoting social inclusion, fighting poverty and developing the skills needed for the digital and green transition. It will also include a more ambitious requirement for investing in young people and addressing child poverty, as proposed by the Commission.
Under the political agreement, the ESF+ will:
- Invest in young people, who have been particularly hard hit by the socio-economic crisis following the coronavirus outbreak. Member States which are above the EU average rate of young people not in employment, education or training (the so-called “NEETs”, aged between 15-29 years) should devote at least 12.5% of their ESF+ resources to help these young people find a qualification, or a good quality job. All other Member States must allocate an appropriate amount of their ESF+ resources to targeted actions to support youth employment measures. The Commission is urging Member States to use this and other existing funding opportunities to further increase investments in youth employment measures.
- Support the most vulnerable suffering from job losses and income reductions: Member States will have to allocate at least 25% of their ESF+ resources to promote social inclusion.
- Provide food and basic material assistance to the most deprived, by integrating in the ESF+ the current Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). All Member States will devote at least 3% of their ESF+ resources to this aim.
- Invest in children who have suffered the effects of the crisis. Member States with a level of child poverty above the EU average should use at least 5% of their ESF+ resources to address this issue. All other Member States must allocate an appropriate amount of their ESF+ resources to targeted actions to combat child poverty and the Commission is urging Member States to use this and other existing funding opportunities to further increase investments in the fight against child poverty.
- Directly support social innovation through the new employment and social innovation strand of the ESF+ with a dedicated financial envelope of €676 million.