Updates on discussions about the Multi-Annual Financial Framework
The MFF (multiannual financial framework) is the EU’s long-term budget, usually covering a seven-year-period. The MFF will define which areas of work of the EU will have more or less investment during that period of time. It is therefore linked to budget but also political priorities. Within the MFF, the criteria for allocation of funds for each EU programme is also defined. The current MFF runs until 2020 but due to the difficult nature of the discussions, the European Commission wants to start them in 2018.
The European Commission launched a public consultation about the different funds on the 10th January. EPR surveyed its members about their experiences of using EU funds in order to contribute to the consultation and responded to questionnaires about three areas of funding: social and employment, education and training, and research. EPR participated in a European Commission conference in Bulgaria in February which also aimed to gather input for the future programmes, as well as celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Social Fund. There was a high emphasis on skills, competences and employability, lifelong learning, on how the funds should support the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, on the need for the funds to be flexible and able to adapt to changing needs, simplification of rules and procedures and more support for innovation and transnationality in the ESF. In workshops, EPR stressed the importance of mainstreaming disability, supported employment, work-based learning, partnerships with employers and addressing prejudices.
EPR also led the development of a joint position of the Social Services Europe network on the future funds, published in March. The paper aims to explain why continued EU investment in projects and programmes in the social sector is essential and worthwhile. It addresses how investing in social services can implement the EU’s fundamental principles and rights, address key issues in Europe, and how the funds and their management could be improved.
The Commission is expected to present proposals for the MFF and categories of funding programmes in May 2018. It is expected that a number of social-related programmes will be brought together in “clusters” or merged. EPR will continue to work with partners to ensure EU funds in the future will support rehabilitation services and keep members informed.