The European Parliament approved the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). During the negotiations with Council and Commission, the S&D Group managed to reach a political deal committing all EU countries to implementing and investing in the European Child Guarantee, a socialist initiative to eradicate child poverty. The successful inclusion of the Child Guarantee in the ESF+ in January 2021 was followed up by the Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee in March 2021 that is expected to be adopted by the Council on 14 June 2021.

Brando Benifei, S&D MEP and negotiator for the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), said: “One in five children in Europe lives in poverty. As the pandemic is unfolding and hitting our economies hard, more parents are losing their jobs, their businesses, their homes. Since 2014, we, the Socialists and Democrats, have been campaigning for a Child Guarantee to ensure all children have free, quality healthcare, education and childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition. Now the Child Guarantee is finally a reality.                                 “I am proud of having defended the fund for the most deprived against the cuts proposed by the Council. Now, we will get additional and dedicated resources to provide food and material assistance for the people most in need, which should not be taken away from other social inclusion measures.”

Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and spokesperson on employment and social affairs, added: “The new European Social Fund Plus, with its budget of almost €100 billion, will have a stronger focus on fighting social exclusion and eradicating poverty. Alongside Next Generation EU and REACT-EU, the ESF+ will not only become the cornerstone of social recovery for the European Union in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, but will also help to prepare for the challenges of the future such as the green and digital transitions.                                                                                                                     “We call on EU governments to put people first, to prioritise social investment in their recovery plans and be ambitious in order to meet and go beyond the Commission’s 2030 targets. The Commission has set the target of lifting at least 15 million people, including 5 million children, out of poverty, and getting at least 8 of 10 of people into active employment. Poverty and unemployment are already alarmingly high and must be expected to grow. It is time to step up our ambition.”