On Tuesday, Parliament gave its final approval to the main instrument that the EU will have for the next seven years to support people and reduce inequalities. He European Social Fund+with a total envelope of €88 billion, will play a key role in developing the action plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights and in combating the socio-economic effects of the pandemic.
During the negotiation with the Council, Parliament managed to raise the ambition of the investment in youth employment and to combat child povertyfocusing on two of the groups hardest hit by the crisis.
Member States with a higher percentage than the EU average between 2017 and 2019 of young people who do not work or study nor follow training courses (“NEETs”) must dedicate at least 12.5% of their Social Fund allocation to initiatives aimed at improving their skills or helping them find quality employment. Other countries must also allocate funds to this objective, preferably via the application of the Youth Guarantee.
Along the same lines, Member States with a percentage higher than the European average between 2017 and 20219 of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion They will have to use at least 5% of their Fund resources to directly support access to child care, education, health and housing for these minors. All countries must dedicate investment to this chapter.
Support for those most in need
At the initiative of the EP, at least a quarter of the funds will go to measures to promote equal opportunities for disadvantaged groupsincluding marginalized communities such as Roma and third-country nationals, to reduce barriers they encounter in the labor market, tackle discrimination and address health inequalities.
The new European Social Fund+ integrates, among others, the current European Aid Fund for the Most Needy (FEAD). The new rules establish that all countries must use at least 3% of the money they receive from the Fund to purchase food and basic material assistance to tackle the most extreme poverty.
Context in Spain
Spain received 10,288 million euros during the 2014-2020 period from this fund, although it has only spent 42% of the financing obtained (4,360 million euros), according to data published by the European Commission. The largest amount was allocated to access to employment and labor mobility (713 million euros) followed by active inclusion (584 million euros).