Webinar: EU Structural Investment Funds and COVID-19. May 2020

You can watch the complete webinar here. 

On May 7th, the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the ONCE Social Group organised a webinar on the European Structural Funds in response to COVID-19. The Structural Funds include, among others, the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and their objective is to reduce the disparities on wealth, opportunities and access to social services in all Member States. This webinar aimed at giving an overview of the funds, as well as how these are used, particularly in support of persons with disabilities, also in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This webinar was moderated by Javier Güemes, from ONCE Social Group and was supported by Haydn Hammersley, EDF Social Policy Officer and Raquel Riaza, Events and Administration Officer. The webinar was accessible for persons with disabilities providing live captioning and international sign language interpretation. It was recorded and it will be available on EDF’s website.

Yannis Vardakastanis, EDF President, gave the opening speech of the webinar stressing the importance of the Structural Funds for the European disability movement.

Emmanuelle Grange, Head of unit for Disability and Inclusion from the European Commission, was asked two questions: if the future disability strategy will be adapted as for the COVID-19 response, and how the European Commission foresees the strategy in order to ensure that persons with disabilities are not forgotten in this recovery process.

Marie-Anne Paraskevas, Senior Policy Officer from the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, explained what is the Corona Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and the CRII+, the European Social Fund (ESF) and the ESF+, and the Fund for the European Aid for the Most Deprived (FEAD).

Andor Ürmos, Policy Analyst from the European Commission DG for Regional and Urban Policy, focused his presentation on an in-depth overview of CRII and CRII+.

Maria Tussy Flores, from ONCE Foundation, spoke about these new measures adopted by the Commission and how these can be used to invest in persons with disabilities.

Gunta Anča, from the Latvian Umbrella Body for Disability Organisations (SUSTENTO), described how Latvia is trying to adapt to the context of these European Structural Investment Funds.

Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General from the European Association of Service providers of Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), spoke about the social services and impact of this crisis on persons with disabilities.

In the end, there was little time to answer the questions from the participants of the webinar so they focused on three main questions about the deinstitutionalisation, the main requests and priorities at European level and some characteristics these funds should have.