Prague mulls cuts in social policy

Czech Prime Minister and ANO movement chairman Andrej Babis in Pruhonice, Czech Republic, 03 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK]

Czech social services providers have criticised the government’s plan to cut funding allocation in the European Social Fund (ESF) and transfer 10% to the Cohesion Fund.

In their open letter, addressed to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the group asked the government to refrain from such a move because it might have serious consequences for Czech society.

Currently, the ESF is mostly used to fund employment programmes, social services, family centres and other activities focusing on mothers with kids or seniors.

The Czech labour ministry, which oversees ESF funding, has backed the social organisation’s stance.

“The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs welcomes the statement of 33 organisations addressed to Prime Minister Babiš that disagrees with the transfer of 10% allocation from European Social Fund to Cohesion Fund in 2021-2027 period,” the ministry’s spokesperson told EURACTIV.cz.

According to the labour ministry, resources from the European Social Fund will be much more important in the coming years because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

“We can expect the rise of unemployment, therefore it is not right to cut funds for the labour ministry,” the spokesperson added.

Under the new rules, the Czech Republic can transfer up to 25% between cohesion policy funds.

The cuts in social pillars were expected because the government’s cabinet is strongly focusing on infrastructural projects, especially in the transport sector.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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