EU Committee looks at effectiveness of the European Social Fund

05 November 2009

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee G (Social Policy and Consumer Affairs) takes evidence at 9.40am from representatives of the Learning and Skills Council as part of its inquiry into the effectiveness of the 2007-13 European Social Fund and how it might be amended and resourced in the future

Appearing before the Committee will be:

  • Mike Bell, Portfolio Director Central Division SFA (designate)
  • Julie Hobbins, Head of European Social Fund

The European Social Fund (ESF) is one of the EU's 'Structural Funds', set up to reduce differences in prosperity and living standards across EU Member States and regions, and therefore promoting economic and social cohesion.

When the overall EU budget for 2007-13 was agreed in 2005, it was decided that a 'budget review' should be undertaken in 2009, with a view to informing the spending priorities in the next financial programming period (2014-2020). As one of the largest single spending programmes, the ESF will be an important consideration in the review.

The European Commission considers the ESF an important tool at Member States’ disposal to help tackle the effects of the global financial crisis. It made a number of suggestions to that effect in its Communication, A Shared Commitment for Employment, published on 3 June 2009. That Communication also makes it clear that the ESF is likely to have an important role in the post-2010 Strategy for Growth and Jobs, which includes the European Employment Strategy.

The Committee's objectives from this inquiry are threefold:

  • To make recommendations on short term changes that might be made to the European Social Fund to allow it to respond effectively to the evolving challenges raised by the financial crisis;
  • To assess the contribution that the ESF can make in the medium term to the post-2010 Strategy for Growth and Jobs, including the European Employment Strategy;
  • To make recommendations on the long term role and functioning of the European Social Fund, within the context of the EU budget review.

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