Fabian Demicoli

Maltese Employers participate in European Social Fund Meeting

In
the Cohesion Report, the EU Commission underlined that in order to achieve the
Lisbon objectives, the Union must successfully address three major
challenges:

ï‚· Enlargement, which is doubling the EU’s regional and social
disparties

ï‚· An increasing pace of economic and social restructuring due to
globalisation and technical progress

ï‚· Demographic change and the shrinking
and ageing workforce

In this context the Third Cohesion Report outlined
the policy priorities for the Community capital investment in the 2007 –2013
period, within an overall budgetary ceiling for cohesion policies equivalent, to
0.43% of the Union’s GDP.

The EU Commission will be presenting its
proposals on the new legislation framework for cohesion policies in mid July
this year. In order to achieve these objectives the EU Commission is proposing
to review the four main Structure Funds of the European Union, giving greater
priority to the European Social Fund. The ESF is the main financial tool through
which the European Union translates its strategic employment policy aims into
action.

During its Plenary Sessions held last week in Brussels, the
European Social Fund Committee discussed the broad outline of the main features
of the Commission’s proposals as concerns in particular the general and ESF
Regulations. The EU Commission is currently in the process of reforming the
structure of the main Funds mechanism in order to achieve better governance and
enhance the role of the social partners in appreciation of the importance of the
role of social partners in the execution of the Commission’s Employment
Strategy.

At the Plenary Session the Maltese employers organisations were
represented by Vincent Farrugia, Director General of GRTU – Malta Chamber of
Small and Medium Enterprises who is a full member of the European Social Fund
Committee.

During the Plenary Session, Vincent Farrugia spoke on the
importance of the EU Commission’s commitment towards a strategic approach that
would reinforce the contribution of EU Financial support towards a greater focus
not only on national and regional interventions funded by the Structural Funds
in order to fulfil each member states national action plan for employment, but
also to support owners of small businesses to help them achieve the employment
targets expected from the SME’s sector. Rather than generalities that would
easily apply to the larger enterprise in the larger country, the reformed ESF
should be better geared to strengthen the links between ESF and the European
Employment Strategy. Within this context specific funds need to be allocated to
micro enterprises that together today represent a total of 22 million jobs in
the enlarged Union. GRTU Director General appealed for a greater imput from
representatives of small business prior conclusions being made by the EU
Commission and the legislation framework governing the EU financial
tools.

 

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