The European Commission published its proposal for a new multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period, and for a new system of own resources (OR) on 2 May 2018. Under the new proposal, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) would serve as the EU’s main financial instrument for the implementation of the Social Pillar and would concentrate investment in education, employment and social inclusion, including healthcare. The ESF+ should merge the existing ESF, the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the FEAD, the EaSI and the health programme. The Commission proposes to allocate €101.2 billion in current prices (€89.7 billion in 2018 constant prices) from the EU budget to the ESF+.
In health policy
The current health programme will be embedded into the ESF+ as the ‘health strand’, with dedicated funding of €413 million. According to the Commission, integrating health in ESF+ is expected to complement other ESF+ activities that address the challenges identified in the European Semester, and will lead to synergies with the other building blocks of the Social Pillar. Financing for health-related activities would also be available through other EU financial instruments, notably Horizon Europe (under the ‘health’ cluster); the Digital Europe Programme (in one of the five ‘focus areas’); the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); the InvestEU programme and the Emergency Aid Rescue (rescEU). According to the Commission, the health strand in ESF+ will provide means to test innovative solutions in a cross-border approach. It would focus on those areas in which EU cooperation has a proven benefit: improving crisis-preparedness and response to protect citizens against cross-border health threats; strengthening health systems by assisting health authorities in the digital transformation of health and care and in national reform processes; supporting EU health legislation, including on medicines, health technology assessment, tobacco and cross-border care; and supporting integrated work, for instance on rare diseases (via the European Reference Networks) or the implementation of best practices for health promotion and disease prevention.