Magazine article European Social Policy

Structural Funds : NGO Coalition Criticises Unravelling of Social Measures

Magazine article European Social Policy

Structural Funds : NGO Coalition Criticises Unravelling of Social Measures

Article excerpt

Social NGOs have expressed concern at the way things are evolving at the EU-level discussions on cohesion policy for the period 2014-2020, and criticised the general position taken by the Council of the EU, on 24 April, which does away with three ex ante conditions applicable to EU Structural Funds. The NGOs also fear a possible revision of thresholds for social inclusion and poverty.

A coalition of eight organisations - AGE Platform Europe (aged people), EAPN (fight against poverty), EWL (women), EDF (handicapped people), EFC (foundations), ENAR (fight against racism), ILGA-Europe (gays, lesbians and transgenders) and SEE (social economy) - has therefore raised the alarm, adopting a joint declaration at the end of the General Affairs Council, which calls on governments to honour their commitment to fighting poverty and promoting social inclusion.

"European citizens will not accept that important social, economic and employment measures are compromised or abandoned during Council discussions," warned the coalition.

THREE EX ANTE CONDITIONS DISAPPEAR

According to the coalition, the general position adopted by the EU Council, on 24 April, weakens the Commission's proposals on ex ante conditionality (conditions that member states must meet in order to receive funding). Ministers decided to limit the application of ex ante conditions according to their relevance to attaining the specific objectives allocated to the different priorities of each programme.

Furthermore, the general position of the Council removes ex ante conditions linked to the fight against discrimination, to promoting equality between the sexes and for the handicapped. Contrary to what the European Commission has proposed, member states do not want to be obliged to respect the United Nations' convention on the rights of handicapped people, the European legal framework on non-discrimination (Directives 2000/78/EC and 2000/43/EC) or a strategy to promote equality between the sexes in order to gain access to funding. …

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