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European Social Fund Plus

Commissioner Schmit calls for a stronger Cohesion Policy and a more social Europe

Commissioner Schmit giving a speech during the 9th Cohesion Forum

During the 9th Cohesion Forum, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit called for Cohesion Policy to play a greater role in addressing Europe’s housing crisis, as well as the enduring high levels of youth unemployment and child poverty. 

The Cohesion Forum 

The 9th Cohesion Forum, held in Brussels on 11-12 April, brought together key figures from across the European Union to discuss the future of Cohesion Policy, building on the insights of the recent High-Level group report and the 9th Cohesion report.  

During his speech, Commissioner Schmit recalled the legacy of Jacques Delors, describing Cohesion Policy and the European Social Fund Plus as central pillars of EU solidarity. He highlighted their crucial support for less developed regions, particularly as Europe navigates through the green and digital transitions. 

Achievements of Cohesion Policy

This year marks two decades since the EU’s Eastern enlargement. Since then, in great part thanks to Cohesion funds, Member States in Central and Eastern Europe have seen remarkable improvements in social inclusion, healthcare, and economic stability.  

Cohesion Policy has played a pivotal role in markedly reducing employment disparities—halving unemployment rates to 8% in less developed regions.  

These successes illustrate the critical role of Cohesion Policy in boosting public investment and revitalising local economies by supporting SMEs and the social economy. 

The Future of Cohesion Policy 

Looking ahead, Commissioner Schmit underlined the importance of Cohesion Policy in supporting the EU’s transition to a green and digital economy.  

He stressed that for transitions to be successful, they must be fair and broadly shared, ensuring that Europe continues to invest in its people and the infrastructure that defines it as a social market economy. 

The policy must evolve to not only spur economic growth but also make sure that this benefits all regions and citizens. 

The Role of the European Pillar of Social Rights 

Commissioner Schmit also highlighted the role of the European Pillar of Social Right in guiding future investments. 

Recalling the three EU headline targets for 2030 on employment, skills and poverty reduction, he emphasised the need to invest in those outside of the labour market: the long-term unemployed, women, older people and notably the young.