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Response to COFACE Open Letter from European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit

On the 19th of May COFACE Families Europe issued an open letter to Presidents of the EU Council, Commission and Parliament, calling for mobilization of current and upcoming EU Funds to support families and carers who are suffering the consequences of this COVID-19 pandemic and need immediate support.

The letter called for appropriate forms of gender- and age- sensitive assistance and support for persons with disabilities, their families and caregivers. It urged new actions to mobilise investments and resources to ensure continuity of care and education for children and adults with support needs, through additional funding to these sectors and highlighted that persons with disabilities and their carers need accessible information on available services, training, in-home support, respite services, financial help to buy IT and assistive devices, income support and/or the possibility to take up extensive and adequately paid carer and parental leaves.

The letter called, furthermore, for an assessment of the needs of families and to ensure that all children can access education regardless of their disability, ethnic background and economic condition of their families.

The letter asked for the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII and CRII+), the SURE instrument and the new 2021-2017 EU budget, and Recovery Fund to include specific and explicit guidance to help Member States ensuring such resources are used to support families and informal carers.

COFACE received a first response, on the 6th of June, from the Cabinet of Charles Michel, European Council President, which indicated that he “remains committed to support families, carers and vulnerable groups through the European budget as a key element for the socio-economic recovery.”

A second response arrived on 7th of July, from Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, on behalf of President Ursula von der Leyen.

In his response, he mentioned that support to families, in particular single parent families, and families in vulnerable socio-economic situations (exacerbated by Covid-19), through the delivery of socio-educational services, health and care services, or proximity services, as well as support to people in vulnerable situations, including persons with disabilities, are eligible under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.

Schmit also highlighted that the Commission’s recent proposal for a Regulation establishing the Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe (REACT-EU) can be used to enhance access to social services of general interest, including for children, to support health services and investments in infrastructure providing other basic service for citizens.

The response mentioned also that the revised proposal for the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) includes a 5% to the fight against child poverty and 15% against youth unemployment.

See full letter here.

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