The rights and principles of the Pillar cover a wide range of issues. Following, a brief insight on the topic of childcare and support for minors. For this document, Active Citizenship Network thanks the communication office of the DG EMPL for the support.

In Italy, in terms of "Childcare and support for minors", Cittadinanzattiva, thanks to its Prices & Rates Observatory, for over 10 years has been constantly monitoring the accessibility of public (municipal) nursery schools, both economically (rates for families) and availability. Although we have seen a 50% increase in available places in 2016 (315,683) compared to 2008 (210,541), we are still far from the 33% coverage target indicated by the European Union; the only regions that cross this threshold are Valle d'Aosta, Umbria, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. The negative record goes instead to Campania and Calabria, where the threshold of 10% coverage of potential users is not even reached. These services contribute to guarantee equal education and care opportunities and to reduce territorial, economic, ethnic and cultural inequalities. Consequently, such a heterogeneous offer in terms of availability, economic accessibility and quality turns out to be an obstacle to equal access, not only to services, but also to constitutionally guaranteed rights, such as that for women's work and the growth of the new generations that they should be insured nationally, regardless of geographic, economic and socio-cultural differences. We find ourselves in a context in which the incompatibility between employment and offspring care needs represents a reason for the resignation and consensual termination of working mothers’ contracts for 36% of cases out of a total of 35,963 measures (Labor Inspectorate - Annual report Year 2018). What it emerges annually from our dossier shows that, on the side of the municipal nursery service, still many steps must be taken to concretely contribute to reducing inequalities and pursuit the sustainable development objectives in our country. What is envisaged in the context of the European pillar of social rights, to reduce disparities not only between state and state, but also within the same nation? What actions are planned for the benefit of the populations residing in the individual countries?

The cohesion policy is a key instrument to reduce disparities between the various EU regions and is behind the hundreds of thousands of projects all over Europe that receive funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.

The regulations that determine the amounts available for cohesion policy for 2014-2020 came into force in December 2013. National governments negotiated how the funds should be distributed in the EU Council and, even though all regions still benefit from cohesion policy, priority was given to countries and regions whose development was lagging behind.

Member States then use the funds to finance programmes – thematic programmes covering the whole country or regional programmes channelling funds to a particular part of the country.

The Commission is not involved in selecting projects (except for a small number of large-scale projects). National and regional authorities are responsible for managing the programmes. These ‘managing authorities’ lay down selection criteria, organise selection committees and – via a project tendering procedure open to all – decide which projects will receive European funding.

The rules specify certain categories of eligible expenditure. For the 2014-20 programming period, 11 thematic objectives are being supported by the cohesion policy funds. A significant part of spending has to focus on these priorities, which cover topics such as research and innovation, support for small and medium sized enterprises, environment, transport, employment, training, and public administration. National and regional authorities specify in their operational programmes how they intend to distribute the available funding between the main themes.

Through its 11 thematic objectives, cohesion policy helps deliver the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU’s growth strategy to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The cohesion policy funds are the main investment tool for measures supporting employment, innovation, education, inclusion, and the shift towards a low-carbon economy.

For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission proposes to modernise the cohesion policy with five main objectives:

Smarter Europe, through innovation, digitisation, economic transformation and support to small and medium-sized businesses;

a Greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change ;

a more Connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks;

a more Social Europe, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and supporting quality employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare:

a Europe closer to citizens, by supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU.

April, 2020

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