The European Social Fund (ESF) is a major source of funding for cities. It supports city measures for social inclusion, labour market integration, vocational training and skills development.
In 2014-2017, the ESF brought tangible results in cities: better access to jobs, schools, training, housing and social care for those in need. City authorities put ESF to good use improving social cohesion and enhancing quality of public services, and could do even more if given better access.
EUROCITIES adopted a statement on the European Commission's proposal on ESF+. We welcome the increased synergies and simplification in the proposed ESF+ regulation. The integration of FEAD into ESF should make it easier for cities to combine material assistance with support for social inclusion and active measures. Better synergies with other EU funds (ERDF, Asylum and Migration Fund, Horizon Europe, Erasmus+) should help cities deliver more integrated solutions to complex social challenges. The introduction of the mid-term review offers good potential for re-allocation of funding in line with emerging new needs in urban areas but should be done earlier than 2025. The support for more social innovation at local level is also welcome. However, we regret the step backwards in centralising the programming at national level instead of moving forward with multi-level governance and recognising cities as essential partners.
The ESF+ should:
- Recognise cities as essential partners in shaping and delivering the objectives of the fund, and meaningfully involving them in the governance and programming at all stages.
- Reinforce the territorial dimension of the ESF+ by ensuring the necessary flexibility to identify priorities in line with the specific needs and challenges at local level.
- Support integrated territorial strategies in combination with ERDF through ITI and CLLD.
- Better use the social inclusion 'earmark' to support integrated approaches to poverty reduction and set a minimum level for supporting social innovation at local level.
- Maintain support for institutional capacity and raising quality of public services in the specific objectives of the fund.
Please find attached the full text of our statement on ESF+.
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