Magazine article European Social Policy

European Social Fund : Negotiations on Esf Resume

Magazine article European Social Policy

European Social Fund : Negotiations on Esf Resume

Article excerpt

Despite the European Parliament's threats to walk away from the negotiations on the future of the European Social Fund (ESF), a three-way meeting was held on 22 April. Parliament's negotiating team agreed to return to the negotiating table after the Irish Presidency pledged to organise a high-level meeting on the share of the budget to be allocated to the ESF.

The European Social Fund is a financial instrument used to promote the inclusion in the labour market of persons who find it difficult to get work, primarily by supporting training activities. With rising unemployment and social exclusion, the European Commission proposed, in late 2011, to strengthen the social dimension of this tool for the years 2014-2020, to simplify it and make it more flexible. It suggested that 25% of the cohesion policy budget should go to the ESF, with 20% of ESF funding in each member state earmarked for social inclusion and tackling poverty.

Negotiations between Parliament and the Council started six months later, once the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) had determined the EP's position (see Europolitics 4459). However, with the 14th three-way meeting, on 18 April, the EP negotiating team decided to walk out, denouncing the Council's intransigence. MEPs were particularly critical of the vague work timeline, the reopening of points considered as settled under the Cyprus Presidency and the absence of a clear mandate for the Council's negotiators. …

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