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European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Structural and investment funds: Commission boosts partners' role in planning and spending
European Commission Press room's statement / Brussels, 7 January 2014
On 21 December, after more than two years of negotiations, the basic rules on EU structural and investment funds for 2014 – 2020 entered into force.
These regulations set out how Member States should plan and implement their investment projects that can be supported by 325 billion euros from the EU structural and investment funds over these seven years.
This money includes more than 70 billion euros to be invested in human capital via the European Social Fund.
For the first time ever the European Social Fund will have a minimum guaranteed share within overall cohesion policy spending.
Also, more than 6 billion has been specifically earmarked for young people from the Youth Employment Initiative and 3.5 billion euros has been devoted to helping those hit hardest by poverty through the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived.
All Member States are now working hard – in close contact with the Commission – to prepare their Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes detailing the thematic objectives and investment priorities on which they intend to spend their allocations of EU structural and investment funds money in the 2014 to 2020 period.
We expect the Partnership Agreements and Operational programmes to be submitted in early January
Now, in order to maximise the impact of this money, it is crucial that Member States' authorities at all levels – national, regional and local – work closely with each other and in partnership with trade unions, employers, non-governmental organisations and other bodies responsible, for example, for promoting social inclusion, gender equality and non-discrimination.
By involving all these partners in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects supported by EU funds, Member States will be better able to ensure that money is spent where it is most needed, and in the best way possible.
This is why the Commission has today adopted a Regulation outlining, for the first time ever, a common set of standards to be applied immediately by Member States in the form of a European Code of Conduct on partnership.
All Member States will have to follow these rules when finalising the funding programmes which they will propose to the Commission for the 2014-20 period.
As a result, Member States will have to ensure that all relevant views are taken into account when deciding on which priorities to support and how the most effective investment strategies can be designed and realised.
This strengthened partnership approach is one of the important innovations the EU has introduced in the new cohesion policy.
We believe that it will make a significant contribution to ensuring that every euro from EU structural and investment funds is spent in the most effective way possible to address the economic and social challenges Europe faces between now and 2020.