A bigger budget for youth, but EU misses mark on climate change
The EU has finally approved its new budget! After years of advocating together with member organisations for more investment in youth, the European Youth Forum is pleased that young people’s voices have been heard.
Yesterday the European Parliament approved the EU Budget for the next 7 years amounting to €1 835.3 billion along with the recovery package “Next Generation EU” that from 2021 to 2023 will supplement the MFF by €750 billion.
Thanks to the position of the European Parliament, several important programmes have been reinforced with an extra 15 billion euros, including Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe.
Carina Autengruber, President of the European Youth Forum:
We young Europeans have a lot to be proud of in this new EU budget. We have successfully campaigned for a bigger, more accessible Erasmus programme and we are delighted that even more young people will soon be able to take advantage of its benefits. Investing in young people’s skills, mobility and education means investing in a more equal, inclusive Europe.
However, when it comes to the climate crisis, the EU budget does not go far and fast enough. A sustainable future will only be possible with an ambitious response by Member States to take urgent action, such as to stop financing fossil fuels.
While it is now clear how much money the EU will spend on each programme in the next 7 years, approval of the Regulations that outline the contents of these programmes is still under the way.
We’ve taken a look at the key investments for young people and their priority issues:
- Youth mobility, volunteering and strengthening democracy:
Great news! The increase in funding of the Erasmus+ programme now amounts to almost double* the previous programme. This increase is significant, as according to the European Commission, this will result in an extra 12 million participants.
Furthermore, 10.3% of the Erasmus+ budget will go to youth activities, like exchanges and participation projects. This increase should be a stepping stone for more inclusion and accessibility, and should also ensure that youth organisations will have the access to funding opportunities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and to sustainable operational funding. The European Youth Forum will continue to work with the institutions to make sure more young people can access quality opportunities.
To foster volunteering and solidarity, the European Solidarity Corps programme will be allocated with 0.895 billion, with the majority of the budget allocated for volunteering opportunities and 6% for involvement in humanitarian aid actions.
*comparison uses numbers based on 2018 prices
- Employment and social inclusion
When it comes to tackling youth employment, some crucial negotiations are still ongoing.
In the previous budget (for 2014-2020) the European Social Fund (ESF+) spending for youth employment was 8.8 billion Euro. However, this time around ESF+ funding for youth employment could land anywhere between 5.4 billion and 9.1 billion Euro. *
When youth employment is rapidly plummeting due to Covid-19, the European Social Fund+ will be an important tool to ensure young people’s right to quality employment. In these continuing negotiations, the European Youth Forum fully supports the Parliament’s position to reach higher earmarking for youth employment in the European Social Fund+. To provide young people with enough support and to ensure effective implementation of the Youth Guarantee, the EU simply cannot afford to go below the current investments.
*comparison uses numbers based on 2018 prices
The EU has allocated a minimum set target of 30% of the budget to contribute to climate objectives. This is a good step towards a sustainable Europe, but in no way is it a victory or end-game.
Climate networks and young people have been calling for a 40% target minimum and full cut of financing of fossil fuels, while in reality it will still be financially supported until 2025.
Furthermore, this earmarking should be easily tracked and used as a policy and adjustment tool, where programmes are underperforming. The MFF should support the implementation of the Green Deal and the recently agreed 55% target in reduction of emissions that will be made binding in the Climate Law.
- Next Generation EU
Following the impact of the pandemic, the unlocked 750 billion euros available for next 4 years will significantly aid Member States in their recovery efforts.
However, we need the focus of this recovery to go beyond employment and also address wellbeing in a more holistic way. Following the guidelines, Member States have to consult with civil society and other relevant partners when developing National Recovery and Resilience Plans. The European Youth Forum, bringing together youth organisations and representations across Europe, insist that young people's voices should be heard in the development of these plans to tailor to the actual realities of the Next Generation.