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European Social Fund Plus

Homes, training and jobs: what’s the reality of Social Europe?

Screenshot from the Euronews episode on Social Europe
© Euronews

In this Euronews episode, Real Economy travelled to Romania and France to meet people whose lives have taken a new turn thanks to EU-funded solidarity initiatives aimed at building a strong social Europe

Through three personal stories, the episode shows that the European Union is on course to meet its 2030 social headline targets on employment, training and poverty reduction.

In Berceni, a small town north of Bucharest, Valentin and Gabriela Alexe faced hardships and fell ill before they could find a home to settle. Thanks to the NGO Habitat for Humanity and EU funds, they became homeowners in exchange for volunteer time and an affordable contribution over 20 years. A once unattainable dream for the low-income young family became a reality, and they feel deeply grateful: ‘Our life has changed.’ 

Cosmina Pandele, the mayor of Berceni states: ‘This gives chance not only to those who move into the new houses, but to all those who will be born into these families.’ Projects like this can help achieve the goal of reducing the risk of poverty for 20 million children in the EU and implementing the EU Child Guarantee

Skills are at the heart of EU priorities. Rodica Ionas, a 49-year-old English teacher at a school in Bucharest is following a course in digital technology. She explains how this helps her and her students: ‘I'm better at teaching in general. My students will like the classes more because we learned a few ways of making the class more attractive. They should be motivated to come to school.’

On the other side of Europe, in the rural area of Pipriac in France, Marie-Fabienne Lavoisier, who survived cancer but had no job for years, benefited from a pioneering initiative to create zero long-term unemployment territories

The project, which receives ESF+ funding, redirects the savings from cash benefits otherwise paid to unemployed people like her, creating jobs that support the needs of local communities. 

She says the scheme did more than provide an occupation: ‘It allowed me to regain a social life. It also gave meaning to my life [..]. We need to return to solidarity and human values because that's what allows us to overcome challenges.’