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Transnational cooperation

Transnational cooperation in the ESF helps develop better and more effective employment and social policies and improve the delivery of reforms, essentially by enabling people to learn from experiences and good practice in other countries.

Transnational cooperation is implemented in three different ways:

ESF TNC Infoline
Phone:  +32 2 736 1890
  • on the basis of common themes, whereby Member States benefit from an EU-level platform established and operated by the Commission (the Common Framework);
  • without central coordination (the flexible approach);
  • through a combined approach of the above.

The Common Framework

The Common Framework’s primary focus is to bring together project promoters from different Member States and facilitate cooperation between them within transnational projects. It also serves as a forum for discussing issues relevant to the ESF between stakeholders in the different countries.

Common themes and networks

A set of common themes has been agreed to guide work within the Common framework:

Common theme Possible sub-themes
Employment Employability and labour integration; Labour mobility; Employment services – improvement of and access to; Work-life balance; Adaptability; Work organisation; Green jobs; Active ageing
Inclusion Active inclusion in the labour market; Access to services (e.g. transport, health, welfare, housing, etc.); Combating discrimination, such as Roma; Fighting against poverty; Community-led local development
Youth employment NEETs; Recent graduates; Mobility; Apprenticeships; Traineeships
Learning and skills Early school leaving; Vocational education and training; Accreditation (of prior learning); Lifelong learning; Transitions within and between school and work
Social economy Social entrepreneurship (including outreach, start-up support, coaching/mentoring, social franchising); Financial instruments to support social entrepreneurship (incl. microfinance); Cooperatives; Pathways of integration from social economy to the normal economic circuit
Governance and public administration Judiciary reform; E-government; Policy and legislative processes; Human resources management; Results-based management; Monitoring and evaluation
Simplification Simplified costs options; Financial instruments; Joint action plans


For each of these themes the Commission is setting up a Thematic Network including representatives from the bodies managing the ESF Operational Programmes, policy experts, stakeholders, academics and social partners.

These Thematic Networks continue the activities of the Learning Networks established in the 2007-2013 period.

Member States are encouraged to ensure that the knowledge created within the Thematic Networks is disseminated through new or existing national networks.

Coordinated calls for proposals

These constitute the core of the common framework, and aim to create synergies and effective partnerships among the Member States around the common themes. These calls will enable projects in each participating country to apply for ESF support for work that includes a transnational component.

Two coordinated calls for proposals will be launched over the programming period (in 2016 and 2018), each covering most of the common themes. These coordinated calls will comprise individual national and/or regional level calls launched by Managing Authorities (or Intermediate Bodies on behalf of MAs) participating in the common framework during an agreed window, following a timetable and terms of reference agreed at EU level.

Tools to support transnational cooperation

A set of tools is being put in place in 2015-2016 to support transnational cooperation in the ESF, whether within the common framework or more broadly:

Online information

A one-stop shop for anyone interested in transnational cooperationin the ESF will support activity within the flexible approach as well as the Common Framework. It will provide news on the work of the Thematic Networks and collaborative fora.


Partner-search database

An EU-wide online partner search database will enable project promoters to share project ideas and find partners in other countries for concrete collaboration.



A quarterly newsletter will be published, as well as periodic technical dossiers and a compendium of good practices which will help to improve the impact of ESF projects.


An annual event will bring together practitioners will be held to encourage mutual learning and to disseminate results among stakeholders.

A panel of stakeholders, primarily European-level NGOs and social partners, will be convened to discuss issues that arise in the implementation of the ESF.

Information line

An information service is available for all transnational cooperation stakeholders, which can include Managing Authorities, NGOs, academia etc.:

+32 2 736 1890

ESF Transnational Platform, AEIDL, Chaussée St-Pierre 260, B-1040 Brussels