The European Social Fund at 60 – European Parliament event, 8 June 2017

The European Social Fund at 60 – dedicated to making solidarity a reality

hosted by MEP Georgi Pirianski (S&D)

8 June 2017, European Parliament


The conference was divided into two panels as follows:
1.) The ESF at 60 – six decades providing added value for citizens.
2.) The future of the ESF post-2020: a key instrument for successful implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Speakers included the host MEP Georgi Pirianski (S&D), Zoltan Kazatsay, Deputy Director General of DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL), Todor Krastev, Counsellor for Employment and Social Affairs of the Bulgarian Permanent Representation, Conny Reuter, Secretary General of SOLIDAR, Kélig Puyet, Director of the Social Platform and MEP Jens Nilsson, (S&D).

Key points

Zoltan Kazatsay, DG EMPL
  • Highlighted in his opening remark that the ESF is vital for the future of the EU but that no new budgetary resources are needed for the years to come as the money is already there, it is only a matter of how it is used; stressed that the Brexit will probably cause a lower budget for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) which will also have a clear impact on the budget of the ESF.

Panel 1:

Conny Reuter, SOLIDAR.
  • The ESF should not only be restricted to the standard programmes aiming at facilitating the access to the labour market, there should be more programmes targeting the support of vulnerable people.
  • Partnership principle: there shouldn’t be any competition between the governments and the social partners (as experienced in the past); the social partners should get more insigns from the beginning of the negotiations.
  • The ESF has a clear objective and refugees are not a target but the ESF could also be used to carefully support the integration of migrants into the labour market.
  • We should have an open debate on the conditionality.
Kélig Puyet, Social Platform.
  • The Social Platform did a survey last summer on the use of the ESF in relation to the fight against poverty.
  • Results of the survey:
    • The focus of the ESF remains too much on employment and activation.
    • There is a clear link between the engagement of civil society partners and the use of the ESF – the civil society organisations help to make it more publicly known/do important communication work.
    • Accessing funds should become easier in the future (past and present challenges: lack of capacity of the organisations, administrative burden etc.).
    • The funds can make a real difference if they are used in the right way but they should be communicated more.

Panel 2:

Zoltan Kazatsay, DG EMPL
  • important priorities of the future ESF might be how to tackle the ageing society, how to fill the gaps on the labour market and how to handle the impact of an increased digitalisation of the labour market.
  • Code of conduct: if it is working properly, certain segments of society might be left out of planning, that is why the social partners should be more included.
  • We cannot impose on the MSs specific solutions which they don’t want and which are not in the rules.
  • We need to support public administrations of MS more as they are crucial for a healthy economy of a country.
  • Including the cities in the social partner circle is not unimaginable in the future.
  • ESF is going to stay for sure but it is still unclear in what way and how extensive the budget will be.
Jens Nilsson, MEP, S&D
  • The social economy, including social service providers from the third sector, is often the driver of innovative responses to social changes; sector is also an important source of employment creation and competence development that’s why it should be more supported.

Open debate/questions with participants

  • Lumos highlighted the importance of DI / transition from institutional to community based care into the ESF regulation; hopes that it will also be included in the next programming period; mentioned the good example of Bulgaria as the ESF played an important role by supporting the process.

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