This Eurocities webinar brought 75 people from 50 cities in 20 EU countries in direct dialogue with the European Commission DG EMPL to discuss about the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). Cities were informed about the changes applicable to FEAD in 2020 to ensure flexibility and quick response in the context of COVID-19 outbreak.
Participants learned how cities such as Berlin, Gothenburg and Zagreb, are using FEAD projects to support the most deprived people in their city. Finally, cities also reflected about the opportunities of having FEAD integrated into ESF+ for the next period of 2021-2027 as well as the challenges of possible delays in programming.
This was the third in a series of online events organised by Eurocities to inform, connect cities and facilitate city-to-city dialogue and mutual learning on EU funding.
Key takeaways from the European Commission
Jan Behrens and Marie-Anne Paraskevas from DG EMPL presented the state of play on FEAD:
- In the current programming period 2014-2020 there are two types of FEAD programmes: 1) food and/or basic material assistance (in 23 member states), and 2) social inclusion of the most deprived (in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands). The focus and target groups are defined at national level.
- Role of cities: cities can get involved either directly as partner organisation to distribute food/goods or do social inclusion activities for target groups, or indirectly by supporting the work of NGOs in project delivery. This role is predetermined by the managing authorities who decide how to implement FEAD in the country.
- More flexibility in 2020: to ensure a quick and effective response to COVID-19 outbreak, the FEAD rules have been made more flexible to open to alternative ways to deliver assistance (electronic vouchers and other forms of vouchers) while allowing traditional delivery to continue in a safe environment (by buying protective equipment for partner organisations). These changes were approved today by the Council of the EU and will soon enter into force.
- In the next programming period 2021-2027, FEAD will be integrated into ESF+. Member states can decide whether to go for a) a comprehensive ESF+ programme in which actions for addressing material deprivation are linked to active inclusion measures, or b) specific programme exclusively addressing material deprivation and separate from active inclusion programme under the umbrella of ESF+. For more information on ESF+ you can watch the recording from our ESF+ webinar
- Delays in programming: As the current EU budget period is ending in 2020 and there is still no agreement for the next 7-year EU budget, concerns remain how this time gap between the budget periods will affect continuity of projects on the ground and their beneficiaries, especially the vulnerable groups benefitting from FEAD support.
- Partnership: European Commission sent letters to member states in November 2019 stressing the key principles of partnership and transparency in all stages from preparation to implementation and monitoring of EU-funded programmes. Cities are key actors to engage in the partnership and multi-level governance (CPR article 6).
Key takeaways from cities
Three cities presented how they use FEAD projects to provide support to the most deprived in their city:
Berlin runs 25 FEAD projects totalling €16 million with a focus on measures for social inclusion through social counselling and outreach social work targeting disadvantaged newly-arrived EU citizens and German homeless people.
Gothenburg runs FEAD projects for social inclusion with a focus on health promotion and awareness-raising targeted to newly-arrived EU citizens living in poverty and social exclusion. Transnational dimension was added to the most recent FEAD project to allow Gothenburg to work with cities and NGOs from home countries of the target groups.
Zagreb uses its social services to support and complement the work of Red Cross and Caritas, two NGOs that are the partner organisations delivering the FEAD project ‘Social Shop’ in Zagreb. The project focuses on food aid and hygiene supplies for the socially disadvantaged citizens not covered by social assistance support.
Key trends emerging from cities:
- Defining target groups according to local context is key, for example focusing some projects on newly arrived EU citizens who are in social exclusion and need immediate social counselling towards inclusion.
- Close cooperation between the city and the civil society in project delivery is crucial to reach the target groups
- Link up FEAD projects to mainstream social services and other inclusion measures in the city to build inclusion pathways for the target groups
NOW is the time for cities to have a say on priorities, target groups and types of projects for 2021-2027:
- Contact your managing authority: if your city has not at all been consulted so far for the programming of ESF+ post-2020, then take initiative and contact your managing authority to discuss the urgent challenges in your city that could use ESF+ funding (including for FEAD-type support). You can find the contact details for the FEAD managing authorities by country: https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1239&langId=en
- Join forces: if many/all cities in your region/country face the same difficulties in getting your local needs reflected into the programme, then you can join forces to address this problem with the national managing authorities (e.g. write a joint letter).
- Keep us updated: You are invited to send us updates on how your city is consulted/involved in the preparation of ESF+ programme in your region/country. Please share with us your concerns, challenges and/or good practices of working with the managing authorities. We will then notify the European Commission who will discuss your points with the managing authority from your region/country.
You can access the recording of this webinar by clicking this link.