The ESF 2007-2013 - Learning from EQUAL

The architecture of EQUAL has integrated the essential features of good governance as it addresses cross-cutting policy issues, and calls for applying sound management principles in its design and implementation: It has worked across and beyond institutional boundaries, by promoting partnerships of key stakeholders. As an innovative programme, EQUAL has questioned established ways of dealing with situations and encouraged to test new and creative ideas,. Learning has been based on experience of what works and what does not, taking fully into account of national and European experience.

ESF action can be harnessed to accelerate the dissemination and transfer of the good practice that has emerged from the EQUAL "laboratory", by developing such practices on a larger scale. Future transnational cooperation and exchange activities could focus on reinforcing and promoting approaches that reach beyond the "state of the art" or "benchmarks" established within EQUAL. This would reduce the "implementation gap" and boost the quality of ESF mainstream action to enhance access to employment and the sustainable inclusion in the labour market, and to reinforce the social inclusion of disadvantaged people.

Particular efforts were made, during the second round of EQUAL, to integrate the guiding principles of EQUAL into the ESF Mainstream (2007 – 2013). As a result, several EQUAL principles (innovation, partnership, gender equality, transnational cooperation) have been fully integrated in the 2007-2013 (new) European Social Fund regulation, reflecting essential features of good governance. The debate on how the EQUAL Principles can best be brought to bear in the 2007-2013 (new) ESF framework is reflected in a number of News Articles that provide further information and material:

Transnational Cooperation: EQUAL provided the opportunity to learn from other Member States, through networking and learning communities, peer reviews, and exchanges of good practice, organised collaboration with partners from other countries. EQUAL did pioneering work into finding ways to overcome barriers to transnational exchange and cooperation, which will be needed to create a truly European labour market.

Summary of main results en
Orientation note and action plan en
Presentation "Sharing information to facilitate transnational activities" en
Presentation "EU wide exchange and learning platforms under the ESF 2007-2013" en
Presentation "Implementation provisions" en
Presentation "Why a CoP on transnational exchange and cooperation?" en


Seminar results en
Action plan to support transnational cooperation at EU level en


Results en
Annexe en
Orientation note of the Commission en
Brandenburg OP proposal en
Czech Republic en
Finland OP proposal en
Spain en
Annexe en
Wales en
Flanders OP proposal en
Germany en
Poland en


Partnerships and Gender Mainstreaming

EQUAL has been based not just on single projects, but on development partnerships, which commit actors from different institutional families (local authorities, companies, universities, trade unions etc.) around a common concern in labour market development and social inclusion, building their capacity to work together in the long term. This has resulted in a wide mobilisation, empowerment and capacity building of strategic stakeholders for reforms and their delivery.

EQUAL has also tested effective ways to implement gender mainstreaming as a management tool – both at programme and project level - to better discover and understand the causes of inequalities between women and men in our societies and come up with appropriate strategies to tackle them.

EQUAL has shown that it is possible to integrate the gender perspective into every step of the policy processes – design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation - with a view to promoting equality between women and men.

Social innovation and mainstreaming of results

EQUAL has elaborated new ideas for labour market development and social inclusion, and tested their suitability, feasibility and acceptance under real conditions, in other words: it has launched social innovations to implement the Lisbon reform agenda on the ground. An integral part of all innovation activities was the 'mainstreaming' of results – this was an organised approach to inform policy and practice.

ESF seminar on "Integrating Innovation and Transnational co-operation into ESF Programmes for 2007-2013" (Dec 2005)

Speech of Lenia Samuel, Deputy-Director General of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities en

Workshop: Holding a job - Having a life- Report en
Workshop: Age management throughout working life- Report en
Workshop: Entrepreneurial ladders out of social exclusion- Report  en
Workshop: Promoting adaptability in SMEs- Report en
Workshop: Making work a real option for all- Report en
Workshop: Inclusion through Corporate Social Responsibility- Report  en
Workshop: Taking account of all learning- Report en
Workshop: Minorities taking their place Report en
Workshop: Tackling Skills Gaps- Report  en


The speeches and presentations of the seminar, the EQUAL planning toolkit and video, on display at the seminar's information market, can now be found:

Speech of Lenia Samuel


Presentation of Marie Donnelly (ppt -123K)


EQUAL planning toolkit 


Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation : a quick summary - PDF 2 053 Kb


Multimedia show on sound programming (12 minutes - 282 kbit/s)