On 29 October 2014, the Commission adopted the Partnership Agreement with Italy, paving the way for more than €10 billion (current prices) in European Social Fund (ESF) funding in the next seven years.
The Partnership Agreement sets down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds in the country's regions, cities and people. It outlines the way in which the financial means of these funds will be used to help Italy achieve its smart, sustainable and inclusive growth targets.
The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and resource-efficient economy.
Investing in human capital and helping people enter the labour market will be a top priority in Italy with a focus on issues highlighted in the country specific recommendations. A strong emphasis is placed on combating youth unemployment. The funds will finance initiatives to improve education and training systems and ensure young people get the right skills to improve their chances on the labour market.
The funds will also continue to finance projects that help disadvantaged groups to get more support and to have the same opportunities as others to integrate into society, with a minimum allocation of 20% of ESF resources devoted to social inclusion.
Furthermore, both the ESF and the ERDF will support Italy's efforts to improve the quality of its public administration through structural reforms and building in the necessary institutional capacities. Investments in these areas will be instrumental in helping Italy to respond to the Europe 2020 priorities and country specific recommendations for Italian policy reforms under the European Semester in education, employment, social inclusion and public administration.
Particular attention is given to improving the administrative capacity of bodies involved in the management of ESIF funds. To this end the Agreement foresees that each such body, in parallel with the preparation of its programme, will prepare a plan for administrative reinforcement. Thereby conditions should be put in place to ensure that the ambitious targets of this Agreement will actually be delivered.
Expected results include a contribution by the Funds to an increased employment rate (at least 67-69 %), reduced poverty and exclusion (by 2.2 million inhabitants) and improved adaptation of education to the labour market needs by 2020.
The ESF share of the Structural Funds budget is 33.6% or €10.46 billion and is above the required minimum share of 26.5 %. The funds will be allocated to these priorities (in million euro):
|Promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility||4 086.5|
|Promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination||2 268.9|
|Investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning||3 156.4|
|Enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration||593.8|
In addition, Italy benefits from an allocation of € 567 million for the Youth Employment Initiative (coupled to an equivalent ESF co-financing). This new instrument is dedicated to confront the high youth unemployment rates across Europe.
The Commission and Italy are currently negotiating the ESF Operational Programmes (OP). These will be breaking down the objectives of the Partnership Agreement into investment priorities and concrete actions and will allow selecting, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the individual projects according to the priorities and targets agreed with the Commission.