EU Alliance for Investing in Children released a statement on the ESF+ agreement.
On February 12th, the EU Alliance for Investing in Children released a statement on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) political agreement reached by the co-legislators at the end of January. The agreement includes – for the first time – a specific objective and earmarking aimed at fighting child poverty. Concretely, all Member States need to allocate adequate resources from the fund towards targeted actions against child poverty. Additionally, countries where child poverty is higher than the EU average (2017-2019) will have to allocate at least 5% of their ESF+ financial resources to tackle it.
The statement was signed by 25 partner organisations of the EU Alliance for Investing in Children, including Eurodiaconia. The Alliance welcomes the agreement, yet we jointly call on the advancement of four points that are deemed crucial to fully capitalise on this agreement and tackle child poverty and social exclusion. These are:
- EU leaders must quickly adopt the political agreement and ensure that their countries allocate appropriate ESF+ resources to targeted multidimensional actions to combat child poverty. The issue of child poverty is critical across Europe. Between 2017-2019, more than 20 million children were growing up in poverty even in the richest EU countries. Because of COVID-19, these figures will probably worsen: EU leaders must act now.
- The co-legislators need to ensure a direct and explicit link between the ESF+ and the Child Guarantee and urge the European Commission to launch a rights-based, comprehensive, and ambitious Child Guarantee in the form of a Council Recommendation. The ESF+ must adequately support the Child’s Guarantee implementation, ensuring that all Member States will allocate an appropriate part of the fund to support this crucial initiative
Eurodiaconia calls on EU Member States to ensure that the ESF+ is not the only financial resource for investing in children. EU funds, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and national budgets should be used strategically and in line with the Child Guarantee Action Plans and multiannual strategies. EU Member States should put children’s and their family’s needs at the heart of their recovery: investing in a social and resilient Europe begins with investing in children.
Last, but not least, EU Member States and the European Commission must ensure that civil society is a key actor in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the ESF+ and that it benefits from ESF+ resources. Members of Eurodiaconia are key actors on the ground.