EU must increase its effort on social cohesion, not cut it

Commenting on the European Commission’s proposals for the Multiannual Financial Framework, European Trade Union Confederation Confederal Secretary Thiébaut Weber said:

We cannot accept the proposal to cut cohesion funding ­– and therefore probably the European Social Fund – by 7%.  This sends out an appalling signal to European citizens when the ink on the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) is not yet dry.

The root causes of unfair competition and social dumping in Europe are to be found in the persistent gaps between countries and the lack of economic and social cohesion in the EU. While some Member States report growth and recovery, workers in nine EU countries[1] are earning less today than they did in 2010. This must change!

Europe needs determined political choices and more funding to achieve social convergence between and within Member States – this is vital to the survival of the Union itself.  

“The ETUC called for an increase in the MFF, whereas this budget proposal scarcely covers the €15 billion expected to be lost because of Brexit, let alone providing funding for more ambitious social programmes. We urge the EU institutions and Member States to develop the means to enable the EU to raise more ‘own resources’ to make Europe stronger.

“The ETUC supports the increase in funding for the environment and climate protection and calls for a European Transition Fund to support workers affected by structural changes in the economy (digitalisation, automation, decarbonisation, globalisation).

“In the forthcoming negotiations between EU institutions and the Member States, the ETUC will be active to ensure that social cohesion spending –  in particular the ESF – and investment for quality jobs are restored to their vital place at the top of the EU’s agenda.”

Among its demands, the ETUC has called for:

  • EU budget to be increased to 1.3 % of the GNI
  • EU own resources to be increased to at least 50% of the EU budget
  • at least 30% of cohesion funding to be earmarked for the ESF
  • The European transition fund should anticipate change by supporting initiatives such as training plans and career guidance.


[1] Italy, UK, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Croatia and Cyprus – source ETUI