The EU’s next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 is currently under discussion. it will have important implications for social services who use EU funds to strengthen their services. We will bring the recommendations of leaders in social services into the debates on the next MFF during our European Parliament event on 9 April, hosted by MEP Sofia Ribeiro.
You can join our discussions by registering for the event. In this article, we frame some of the issues that will be debated.
Financing Social Innovation
EU funds provide important opportunities for social services. This includes the possibility to develop innovative solutions to social problems, or to strengthen services to address blind-spots.
For example, the Regional Government of Galicia, Spain, uses €1.3 million annually from the European Social Fund (ESF) for the Mentor programme for young people in care. It provides training to these young people, making their transition to independence and employment more successful.
Social services also highlight that EU funds can be a source of stability as they can be planned and delivered outside of the electoral timeframes of political cycles.
Limitations of EU Funds
However, our members also identify certain obstacles that limit the effectiveness of EU funds.
Funding for a specific project may not be able to address wider structural problems. For example, an initiative to support the employment of vulnerable parents through case management could be more effective if action was taken to increase childcare places in the local area. But due to the limited scope of the project and lack of an integrated framework, this is not possible.
Another issue is the administrative burden of bureaucratic procedures in the management and reporting of funded projects. This is a frequently mentioned issue and one echoed by social services.
Making EU funds more effective
From their experience in using EU funds, social services have recommendations on how they can be improved. One recommendation is for wider frameworks in projects that allow for more cross-cutting action on issues affecting a local area and the challenges for a target group.
There is also the potential to make better use of digital platforms to simplify reporting procedures, especially with regards to reporting progress against project indicators.
There are also examples of projects that have demonstrated significant success, and should be continued. For example the Municipality of Kortrijk, Belgium, has found that intensive, long-term counselling for vulnerable people has been very successful in improving their wellbeing and job opportunities.
Our event will provide the opportunity for EU policy-makers and leaders in social services to discuss these recommendations which can be incorporated into the next MFF to promote quality social services in the future.