The Romanian presidency of the Council of the European Union wants to reach a partial agreement in the Council on the legislative package regarding the cohesion policy, Minister of European Funds Rovana Plumb stated on Thursday.
She made the statement at the end of a meeting with the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, who came to Bucharest for the meeting of labour ministers from EU member states, organised in the context of the Romanian presidency of the Council of the EU.
"We said that we were going to be ambitious during the Romanian presidency of the Council of EU and we have, indeed, progressed in very many files, but at the same time we are realistic, considering the various challenges that face the EU today. Of the 8 thematic blocks of the legislative package on cohesion, which also includes the regulations on European funds, for the future programming period, we obtained a mandate for seven of them from the Council of EU. What we want is to reach a partial agreement on the entire legislative package on cohesion policy by June 30, June 25 actually, when the meeting of the Council of European Union is scheduled, in order to be able to have a partial agreement on the entire legislative package on the cohesion policy," said Rovana Plumb.
She specified that the Romanian presidency received green light from the Council of the EU to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the cohesion topic.
"For the next programming period, considering that we are currently exercising the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, I can say that, after 3 months, in what concerns the cohesion package, which includes all the regulations related to the use of European funds, including here the Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Social Fund, we received green light from the Council of European Union to start negotiations with the future European Parliament on the cohesion topic," explained Rovana Plumb.
She explained that the Ministry of European Funds is currently establishing the directions of investment through the European Social Fund for the next interval.
"Today, we are establishing the directions of investment for the next programming period with European financing, via the European Social Fund (ESF). The ESF invests in start-ups, to create jobs, in healthcare, in education, in marginalised communities, through helping the disadvantaged groups and, also, there is an investment priority related to the youth, to fight unemployment among the youth. And in what concerns the current programming period, the EFS, which is managed via the Operational Programme Human Resources, launched the financing lines that contributed and contribute with investments in all that it means employment, healthcare, education, disadvantaged groups, social security for these communities that need the help of the state," stated Rovana Plumb.
She explained in detail how the European money is spent in Romania right now.
"With respect to the spending of the European money during the current programming period, for which we have 5.1 billion euros allotted, we have calls launched - financing lines - for 4 billion euros; 78 per cent of them are financing lines in the market. The agreements already concluded are worth 3.2 billion euros, with the amounts received from the European Union totalling 870 million euros, all of them sent to the beneficiaries," stated the Minister of European Funds.
Rovana Plumb thanked Commissioner Marianne Thyssen for the entire support she granted to Romania.
"I thanked her for the constructive dialogue, due to which the public policies financed with European money had a positive impact on our citizens' every day life. And we considered as priorities for the next programming period investments in the young people, in children, in all that it means disadvantaged communities. Gender equality and all the other public policies on employment growth are essential and we will continue to work together to reach the result we want for a more solid Europe, more social, more inclusive, for the consolidation of our European project," concluded the Minister of European Funds.
According to the European Commission, the European Social Fund Plus will focus on investment in people and support the delivery of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This helps to respond to global challenges, maintain social fairness, but also to drive Europe's competitiveness forward.
The European Social Fund Plus will be a more flexible and simpler version of the current European Social Fund by merging a number of existing funds and programmes. Pooling resources will allow the EU and member states to provide more integrated and targeted support in response to the social and labour market challenges that people in Europe face today.
For instance, integrating support to the most deprived into the ESF+ will benefit eligible persons through a better mix of material assistance.