Members of the CoR commission in charge of Territorial Cohesion Policy backed today with an overwhelming majority the draft opinion on the "Mid-term review of the ESF preparing the post-2020 proposal" by PES Group President Catiuscia Marini, President of the Umbria region (PES/Italy).
Making a case for a stronger future budget for social investments, President Marini pointed to the importance of the European Social Fund as EU's main instrument to support labour market policies.
"The ESF is the only fund that directly benefits citizens. Between 2007 and 2014, 9.4 million European citizens got access to employment and 8.7 million acquired a qualification thanks to the support of the ESF. It proved to be sufficiently flexible in responding to challenges and to offer a fresh start to the most vulnerable citizens, especially during the economic crises ", she stressed.
In her draft opinion, Catiuscia Marini strongly rejects linking the European Social Fund to a model of direct management by the European Commission or of any kind of centralisation under the sole responsibility of Member States.
"In order to tackle the new challenges we are confronted with (such as in the areas of migration and technological change), the European Social Fund must remain an integral part of the EU's cohesion policy. It must also be jointly managed by the different levels of government and be managed from the bottom up", she emphasised.
Catiuscia Marini also underlines the importance of a place-based approach and closely links the ESF with the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The opinion is scheduled to be adopted at the March CoR plenary session. In the framework of the discussions on the post 2020 cohesion policy, through this opinion, the CoR reacts to the debate on the possible creation of an 'umbrella ESF', which would regroup all funds operating in the social and employment policy fields.