Plenary Focus - November 2013
European Social Fund
The new Employment and Social Innovation Programme merges the Progress and EURES programmes, and the Progress Microfinance Facility. A positive aspect is that crossborder partnership funding is secured and a big share of the Progress axis will be directed towards the fight against poverty. Nevertheless, the effects will be marginal as the programme has little funding. Increasingly the ESF is becoming a tool to implement Europe 2020. It is good that at least 20 % of ESF funding is earmarked to fight poverty and that the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) is included but by steering people into jobs you are not solving the problems of poverty. Debate: Wednesday; Vote: Thursday
Patrick Le Hyaric
By dismantling price and production regulation tools, such as milk quotas, the reformed CAP will destroy the livelihoods of small farmers in favour of an increasingly industrialized and concentrated farming sector. The CAP should first and foremost create the conditions for fair prices, employment, and support for small and medium-sized farms. This is not what this CAP reform is about. This ultra-liberal reform was neither conceived with farmers nor consumers in mind, but is for large farmers, agribusiness and a few distributors. A departure from this approach is essential. Debate & vote: Wednesday
Horizon 2020 is one of the most important EU actions. As in many other fields, it is the object of strong big industry lobbying and this is reflected in its final design. Many aspects of the Commission proposal have been improved, such as in funding fundamental research and humanities, cutting security related matters, better scientific cooperation, simplification, transparency and job creation perspectives. H2020 will be of key importance for researchers and universities, mainly in less developed
member states. Debate: Wednesday; Vote: Thursday
MEPs will finally vote on the budget for 2014-2020, even though member states have not met all preconditions yet. The Council approved the additional €3.9bn for the 2013 budget and a deal on Cohesion Policy to help disadvantaged regions with €325.15bn for 2014-20 is seemingly within reach. But the launch of a high-level working group on own resources still remains open. However, with a reduced budget of €960bn the EU will not be able to tackle the crisis and unemployment. Debate & Vote: Tuesday
The Erasmus programme 2014-2020 for education and training, youth and sport has some positive aspects, but its “guarantee mechanism for Student Loans” is a time bomb institutionalising European student debt à la USA. In the current budgetary framework of the EU and its member states, it ultimately threatens scholarship systems. GUE/NGL is resolutely opposed. Debate: Monday; Vote: Tuesday
Gender balance on boards
Of course it is a good thing when effort is being put into achieving more gender equality on the labour market. However, the issue of gender balance on company boards does not seem to be the most important problem to tackle. Equal opportunities for women to get a job or promotion are a matter of higher importance than just the issue of boards, in which most women or men will never work. Furthermore the EU should start to set an example itself, by having gender balance in the European Commission and boards of EU institutions like the ECB. The proposal doesn’t include any of this and that makes it merely symbolic.
Instead of an ambitious budget to help the EU countries reverse some of the effects of the biggest social, economic and financial crisis in Europe, all we have is more austerity. Aid to the most deprived comes at the expense of the ESF; the Youth
Employment Initiative will be financed by a reduction to the Cohesion Fund. There are no serious measures to tackle the social emergency situations all over the EU. To the Lampedusa tragedy the EU answer is reinforcement of FRONTEX.
This is a step backwards. Debate: Tuesday; Vote: Wednesday