On the eve of the publication of the Commission’s proposal for an ESF+ the EU Social Partners want to highlight a set of priorities to ensure that capacity building needs of Social Partners are addressed in the future Multi-annual financial framework.

First of all, we are of the opinion that it is essential to ensure the respect of the partnership principle and realise the full added value of the involvement of social partners in ESF implementation. To this end, the European Commission, Member States and Managing authorities should ensure a clearly defined role and status for social partner organisations in the context of ESF implementation, as part of a renewed European Code of Conduct on Partnership which should be an ex-ante conditionality in the future CPR for granting funds.

In addition to that, we consider that in the spirit of the quadripartite Statement on the new start of the social dialogue and, ESF support to capacity-building of social partners to strengthen social dialogue should be reinforced.

The European Commission, Member States and Managing authorities should ensure a clearly defined role and status for social partner organisations in the context of ESF implementation, as part of a renewed code of conduct on Partnership; The managing authorities, European Commission and social partners should hold a discussion in the ESF Committee to explore ways in which to renew the European Code of Conduct on Partnership, in line with the recommendations of the High-Level Group on simplification, taking into account social partners’ needs at national, regional and sectoral levels. The EU Social Partners have worked on a set of recommendations to ensure social partners are heard in this context:

  • The social partners should identify their concrete needs for capacity building support and the role the ESF can play in helping to strengthen social dialogue, including to support better implementation of the outcomes of the European social dialogue;
  • The managing authorities should put in place transparent procedures (decision on allocation of ESF resources available nationally dedicated to social partners’ capacity building, planning of funding priorities, ex-ante evaluation and operational programming, calls for proposals, monitoring and evaluation);
  • The European Commission and managing authorities should implement, together with social partners in the Member States, guidance and technical assistance to support their involvement, by sharing good practices, country cases, and fostering mutual learning;
  • Given the crucial role that social partners play regarding labour market aspects, the EU Commission should ensure that EU and national social partners can apply to fund projects that contribute to improving employment prospects;
  • Managing authorities, supported by the European Commission, and in consultation with social partners should consider how to overcome the challenges of project-based funding;
  • The European Commission should explore the possibility of setting up programming arrangements for social partner capacity building initiatives throughout an entire funding period (instead of individual project-based calls, including the possibility for a performance reserve inspired from the European regional development fund – ERDF);
  • Managing authorities, supported by the European Commission, should work towards the introduction of the recommendations of the High-Level Group on simplification to deliver a more effective and efficient implementation of ESF activities, notably as concerns simplified cost options;
  • Managing authorities should consider how to further provide social partner members of Monitoring Committees with training, expert input and advice and guidance.

The EU Social Partners urge the Commission, the EU Parliament and the Council to take these recommendations into account when designing the future ESF+ to provide support to social partners where necessary.

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