The European Social Fund+, with a total budget of €88 billion, will play an important role in the implementation of the action plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights and in countering the socio-economic effects of the pandemic.
Investing in children and youth
During the negotiations, Parliament secured more ambitious funding for investing in youth employment and combating child poverty, addressing two groups of people that have been particularly hard hit by the crisis.
Member states with an above EU-average percentage of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) between 2017 and 2019 should devote at least 12.5% of their ESF+ resources to help them improve their skills or find a good quality job. Other member states should also dedicate resources to them, preferably by implementing the reinforced Youth Guarantee schemes.
On a similar basis, member states that had an above EU average percentage of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion between 2017 and 2019 should invest at least 5% of their programming resources in directly supporting children’s equal access to childcare, education, healthcare and decent housing. All member states are obliged to invest in combating child poverty.
“Today, we have adopted a balanced text and secured Parliament’s priorities. The ESF+ is the EU’s main instrument to build a more social and inclusive European Union. It is all the more crucial given the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and will play an important role in the recovery. Parliament will now closely monitor the effective use of the ESF+ across the EU,” said David Casa (EPP, MT).
Supporting people who need it the most
At the Parliament’s initiative, at least a quarter of the funds will be dedicated to measures fostering equal opportunities for disadvantaged groups, including marginalised communities such as Roma and third-country nationals, to reduce barriers on the labour market, tackle discrimination and address health inequalities.
Among other funds, the current Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) has been integrated into the new ESF+. Under the new rules, all member states will have to spend at least 3% of their funds on food and basic material assistance to address the forms of extreme poverty that contribute most to social exclusion.
Following Parliament’s approval, the regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal. The Employment and Social Innovation strand will apply retroactively.
The new European Social Fund +, worth €87,995bn in 2018 prices, integrates the former European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) and the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) into one fund.
- Adopted text (08.06.2021)
- Video of the debate (08.06.2021)
- Press release on the provisional agreement (29.01.2021)
- Profile of rapporteur David Casa (EPP, MT)
- Procedure file
- ESF + webpage
- Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights
- Free photos, video and audio material
- Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
Germany’s Merkel urges pragmatic approach to Northern Ireland
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) called on Saturday for a “pragmatic solution” to disagreements over part of the Brexit deal that covers border issues with Northern Ireland, Reuters Read more.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain will do "whatever it takes" to protect its territorial integrity in a trade dispute with the European Union, threatening emergency measures if no solution was found.
The EU has to defend its common market, Merkel said, but on technical questions there could be a way forward in the dispute, she told a news conference during a Group of Seven leaders' summit.
"I have said that I favour a pragmatic solution for contractual agreements, because a cordial relationship is of utmost significance for Britain and the European Union," she said.
Referring to a conversation she had with U.S. President Joe Biden about geopolitical issues, Merkel said they agreed that Ukraine must continue to remain a transit country for Russian natural gas once Moscow completes the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
The $11 billion pipeline will carry gas to Germany directly, something Washington fears could undermine Ukraine and increase Russia's influence over Europe.
Biden and Merkel are due to meet in Washington on July 15, and the strain on bilateral ties caused by the project will be on the agenda.
The G7 sought on Saturday to counter China's growing influence by offering developing nations an infrastructure plan that would rival President Xi Jinping's multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative. L5N2NU045
Asked about the plan, Merkel said the G7 was not yet ready to specify how much financing could be made available.
“Our financing instruments often are not as quickly available as developing countries need them,” she said
'Whatever it takes', UK's Johnson warns EU over post-Brexit trade
Britain will do "whatever it takes" to protect its territorial integrity in a trade dispute with the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday (12 June), threatening emergency measures if no solution was found, write Elizabeth Piper and Michel Rose.
The threat by Johnson seemed to break a temporary truce in a war of words over part of the Brexit deal that covers border issues with Northern Ireland, the focus for tensions since Britain completed its exit from the EU late last year.
Despite US President Joe Biden encouraging them to find a compromise, Johnson used a G7 summit to indicate no softening in his position on what is called the Northern Ireland protocol that covers border issues with the British province.
"I think we can sort it out but ... it is up to our EU friends and partners to understand that we will do whatever it takes," Johnson told Sky News.
"I think if the protocol continues to be applied in this way, then we will obviously not hesitate to invoke Article 16," he added, referring to a safeguard clause that allows either side to take measures if they believe the agreement is leading to economic, societal or environment difficulties.
"I've talked to some of our friends here today, who do seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country, a single territory. I just need to get that into their heads."
His comments came after he met French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top EU officials Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel at a Group of Seven summit in southwestern England.
The EU told the British government once again that it must implement the Brexit deal in full and introduce checks on certain goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland. Britain repeated its call for urgent and innovative solutions to ease the friction.
The province has an open border with EU member Ireland so the Northern Ireland protocol was agreed as a way to preserve the bloc's single market after Britain left.
The protocol essentially kept the province in the EU’s customs union and adhering to many of the single market rules, creating a regulatory border in the Irish Sea between the British province and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Since Britain exited the bloc's orbit, Johnson has unilaterally delayed the implementation of some provisions of the protocol, including checks on chilled meats such as sausages moving from the mainland to Northern Ireland, saying it was causing disruption to some supplies to the province.
"Both sides must implement what we agreed on," von der Leyen, European Commission president, said after meeting Johnson alongside Michel, the European Council president.
"There is complete EU unity on this," she said, adding that the deal had been agreed, signed and ratified by both Johnson's government and the bloc.
Germany's Merkel said the two sides could find pragmatic solutions on technical questions, while the EU protected its single market.
Earlier this week, talks between the two sets of negotiators ended in an exchange of threats over the so-called "sausage wars". An EU official said at the G7 that there was a need for the rhetoric to be toned down.
The head of the World Trade Organization said she hoped the tensions would not escalate into a trade war.
The United States has also expressed grave concern the dispute could undermine the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.
That agreement largely brought an end to the "Troubles" - three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant "loyalist" paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.
Though Brexit was not part of the formal agenda for the G7 summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay, it has more than once threatened to cloud the meeting.
France's Macron offered to reset relations with Britain as long as Johnson stood by the Brexit deal - a characterisation of the meeting that was rejected by the British team. Read more.
Brexit has also strained the situation in Northern Ireland, where the pro-British "unionist" community say they are now split off from the rest of the United Kingdom and the Brexit deal breaches the 1998 peace deal. But the open border between the province and Ireland was a key principle of the Good Friday deal.
Keeping the UEFA EURO 2020 championship safe
Between 10 June and 12 July 2021, Europol will host an operational centre to support safety and security during the UEFA EURO 2020 football championship. Coordinated by the Dutch Police, the International Police Cooperation Centre (IPCC) of the National Football Contact Points will host about 40 liaison officers from 22 participating and hosting countries. This special operational set-up is created to enable swift cooperation and provide the necessary operational support for a safe and secure championship.
The IPCC will serve as a central information hub for national law enforcement authorities. To that end, Europol has created a special Task Force EURO 2020 to enable keeping officers on the ground 24/7 to easily exchange information and swiftly receive leads on ongoing investigations. The operational activities will focus on public safety and criminal threats, which may threaten security during the tournament. Enforcement authorities will target threats such as cybercrime, terrorism, match-fixing, trafficking counterfeit goods including fake COVID-19 certificates, and other intellectual property crimes.
Europol’s Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle, said: ‘The UEFA EURO 2020 championship is a unique tournament both for football and for law enforcement. With 24 national teams playing in 11 cities across Europe, teaming up is paramount for the safety of the tournament. Europol will enable this cooperation by hosting the dedicated operational centre. Backed by Europol’s capabilities, officers on the ground will be better prepared to ensure a smooth and safe championship.’
The IPCC’s chief of staff, Max Daniel, said: ‘Combining information about public order issues, supporters, places of stay and travel movements by road, air and rail results in an up-to-date and integrated picture. Being able to easily share that information between countries has proven to be very valuable in the past. Police intelligence officers of all participating countries are doing their utmost to ensure that this unique UEFA EURO 2020 championship will be as safe as possible.’
IPCC UEFA EURO 2020 Participants (total number):
EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands.
Non-EU Countries: Azerbaijan, North Macedonia, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
Organisations: INTERPOL and UEFA
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