PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR THE FAMILY AND SOCIAL SOLIDARITY: Speech by the Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity Michael Farrugia during the conference ‘European Social Fund: past, present and future’

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Following the fruitful discussions, which has brought together ESF stakeholders, policy makers, social partners and practitioners from the European Union to feed into the current debate of the future of the ESF post 2020, I am very pleased to bring this event to a close.

The main objective of this event was to exchange valuable ideas to make ESF investment even more relevant, efficient and effective for the future. This year is an important year for the ESF as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

As Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said, “The 60th anniversary of the European Social Fund is a true reason to celebrate. Looking back at the 60 years of ESF implementation, it is of great pleasure to recognise the considerable impact that ESF had on people’s lives.”

The critical importance of the European Social Fund along its 60 years of implementation has been stressed throughout the course of this conference. We were reminded, also thanks to the exhibition in the adjacent room, that the ESF has made a difference in the lives of millions of people around the European Union by helping them to improve their life prospects.

In fact, the European Social Fund has helped millions of Europeans find a job, gain a qualification or certificate and increase their skills levels. ESF has also had a significant role in increasing the opportunities for youths and children who represent the future of the European Union.

These outcomes are achieved through many thousands of projects carried out everywhere in Europe. Malta has significantly benefitted from ESF and further important investments are envisaged for the 2014-2020 programming period.

On the ground, as we have seen through the experiences shared by our colleagues during this conference, the ESF contributed towards the integration of youth in the labour market in Germany, the retention of students within the education system in Sweden, and changing the lives of institutionalized children in Bulgaria. These are only few examples of what the ESF has managed to achieve.

Linking the ESF to employment policy is critical as employment is the most effective way of giving people independence, financial security and a sense of belonging.

Employment is an important step to prevent people and families from falling into poverty which is also crucial for the health and wellbeing of all family members. In this context, it has been highlighted that the risk of poverty and social exclusion among children is strongly linked to their parents’ situation in the labour market and their social condition.

As remarked by Hon. Rodriguez, in these challenging times, a more social Europe, with fair working conditions, effective labour markets and a strong social dialogue, but with a special focus on children should be a priority for all of us.

Social Policy is another critical tool for the achievement of social cohesion at European level. A good understanding of employment and social dynamics in Europe is very important, because the European dialogue can hardly continue to evolve in the right direction unless we find an answer to the question how our Economic and Monetary Union can be made to sustainably work for socio-economic convergence and renewed prosperity across the highly heterogeneous group of countries of which it consists.

With new challenges ahead in the labour market stemming from new types of employment, Europe needs to adapt its labour laws and social insurance schemes in order to ensure decent and fair working conditions and social protection for all workers.

With this vision in mind, I would like to thank all the participants for all the efforts made during this conference, which has tackled many issues related to the future of ESF. We share a responsibility and have an interest in working for a more prosperous and strong Europe, where economic and social developments go hand in hand.

Source: Government of Malta